A divorce has the potential to bring challenges and changes for every member of a New Jersey family, even individuals who do not live in that home. Grandparents play a critical role in the lives of their grandchildren, but they may find that a divorce between the two parents affects how often they can see the grandkids or whether they have access at all. This can negatively impact both the kids and the grandparents.
If you are a grandparent, you are likely concerned about how a divorce could impact the relationship you have with your grandkids. While grandparents do not have the same rights as biological parents, there are times when a court may consider the benefit of grandparent visitation or even custody. You may find it beneficial to explore the specific legal options available to you.
The best interests of the child
The goal for any type of custody or visitation agreement is the protection of the best interests of the child above all else. In situations where grandparents have custody, it is typically because the parents are unable to care for the child for various reasons. When hearing arguments for or against the inclusion of grandparent visitation as part of a custody plan, the court will take the following factors into consideration:
- The emotional, physical and mental needs of the child
- Strength of the relationship between the grandparents and grandchild
- Ability of the grandparents to meet the needs of the child
- Wishes expressed by the child
- Length of the relationship between the grandparents and child
- Child’s adjustment to changes at school and home life
- Physical distance between the grandparents and the grandchild
- Any evidence of abuse by the parents or grandparents
These are all factors that could influence the court’s decision to grant a grandparent visitation, but the court will consider each case on an individual basis.
Protecting your relationship
If you are fighting for access to your grandkids, you may find it necessary to present evidence in court that validates your claim to regular visitation and the ability to protect and maintain this important relationship. A divorce is disruptive in the life of a child, and the court may decide that harming the grandparent-child relationship will cause even more unnecessary upheaval and emotional duress for the youngest members of the family.