Although grandparents may have many opinions about how their grandchildren will be raised, they have little legal ground for impacting these young lives. In some cases, outspoken and opinionated grandparents find that their ability to spend time with these youngsters can be limited because of disagreements with the parents. An interest in spending time might not be legally guaranteed, but there are some situations in which a New Jersey grandparent could gain visitation rights or even custody through the court system.
Certain conditions must be in place for a family court to consider ordering visitation for a grandparent. These conditions are dependent on state law, but the best interest of a child is normally the most important concern. A child's prior residence with a grandparent, for example, might weigh significantly among the facts considered by a judge. A grandparent's loss of access to a grandchild because of the divorce of the child's parents could be cause for a judge to award visitation rights. Similarly, the death of the child's parent might be reason for the correlating grandparents to obtain a visitation privileges.
Grandparents might be concerned about the welfare of their young relatives, which could prompt thoughts of seeking child custody. Opinion alone is not sufficient for obtaining custody, but a case might be successful if they prove that a grandchild's parents are unfit. Examples might involve negligence, endangerment or abuse. It would be important to have supporting evidence of any allegations to prove their point to the court.
Child custody and visitation cases can be extremely contentious because of the emotional factors. A lawyer typically brings objectivity to a case by relying on facts to demonstrate the merits of a client's claims. A lawyer may use school records, witness statements from individuals involved in a child's life, and information from therapists to substantiate concerns about a child's best interests.