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Do grandparents have visitation rights in New Jersey?

According to LiveAbout, prior to 1993, New Jersey's grandparent visitation statute only granted grandparents visitation rights when the parents were divorced, separated or deceased. However, that year the courts removed all three stipulations, thereby allowing grandparents to sue for visitation of children living in nuclear families. This was a win for grandparents but a short-lived one. In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a fit parent who cut off the relationship between a child and grandparent is presumed to have acted in the best interests of the child. Since that decision, the courts have called into question the constitutionality of New Jersey's grandparent visitation laws on several occasions.  

Prior to the 2000 ruling, grandparents such as yourself who seek visitation rights needed only to prove by a preponderance of evidence that visitation was in the best interests of the child. To determine best interests, the courts would consider several factors, including but not limited to the following:

  •       The relationships between the child and the grandparent and the grandparent and each of the child's parents
  •       The time elapsed since the child's last contact with the grandparent
  •       How a grandparent's visitation rights might affect the relationship between the child and his or her parents
  •       The grandparent's "good faith" in filing the application
  •       Whether or not the grandparent was a full-time caretaker in the past

However, since 2000, grandparents must not prove that lack of visitation would cause harm to the child, which is more difficult to do than proving visitation would be in a child's best interests. If you are successful in meeting the harm standard, you may be able to obtain visitation rights of your grandchild. Unfortunately, meeting the harm standard is exceptionally difficult to do, and many who have tried have been unsuccessful. 

The content in this post is not meant to serve as legal advice. It is for educational purposes only.



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