New Jersey law gives grandparents broader rights to grandchild visitation than most other states do. Grandparents who want more time with their grandchildren can petition the court for visitation and must prove that a legal arrangement of this kind is in the child’s best interest.
If one or both parents has limited your relationship with your grandchild, read on to learn more about New Jersey’s Grandparents’ Visitation Statute. You can apply for visitation at any time, including during or after the child’s parents’ divorce.
Factors determining best interest
The state court considers these factors when deciding whether legal grandparent visitation is in the child’s best interest:
- The existing relationship with the grandparent in question
- Any history of violence, abuse or neglect by the grandparent
- The relationship between the grandparent and the child’s parents and/or guardians
- Whether the grandparent is applying for visitation in good faith
- The amount of time since the grandparent has last spent time with the grandchild
- If the child’s parents have separated or divorced, the existing child custody and visitation arrangement
- How visitation will impact the child’s relationship with his or her parents
Other extenuating circumstances
If you served as the child’s full-time caregiver in the past, you have an increased likelihood of receiving court-awarded visitation. The New Jersey court considers this situation a presupposition of best interest.
Even when you successfully prove the best interest standard, however, grandparent visitation is at the judge’s discretion. Based on Supreme Court case law, he or she can deny the petition if you are unable to show not only the best interest but also that the child would experience harm if the grandparent relationship becomes severed.
To get started, you must submit a petition for visitation to the family court in the county where your grandchild resides. An experienced family law attorney can help provide the guidance you need to build your case.