Georgia law gives grandparents the legal right to visit with their grandchildren in many circumstances. However, grandparents often need to take legal action to enforce that right, and they must demonstrate that legal requirements are satisfied.
Working with an experienced grandparents’ rights attorney can be one of the most effective ways for grandparents to gain access to their grandchildren. At the Law Office of Tessie D. Edwards & Associates, we can help negotiate with parents to reach your goals or file an original action or join an existing case to assert your right to visitation.
Grandparents Need Evidence to Persuade the Court
While grandparents have rights, those rights are not absolute. The courts assume that parents who refuse visitation to grandparents have a good reason for doing so. That means grandparents must present evidence to override that presumption, which is where assistance from an experienced legal advisor can prove so beneficial.
To gain visitation rights under §19-7-3- of the Georgia Code, grandparents must:
- Make a showing with clear and convincing evidence
- Demonstrate that the health or welfare of the child would be harmed if visitation is not granted
- Demonstrate that granting of visitation rights would serve the child’s best interests
If a grandparent does not already have a “substantial preexisting relationship” with the child, then they cannot simply argue that the lack of opportunity to develop a relationship is harmful to the child. When a family law attorney presents evidence to prove that such a relationship exists, however, that relationship can definitely provide grounds to meet the standard.
Factors That Can Help Grandparents Gain Visitation Rights
The statute covering grandparents’ rights specifies that the court may find it likely that denying visitation could harm the child if:
- The grandparents provided financial support for the child’s basic needs for at least one year
- The child lived with the grandparent for at least six months
- The grandparent provided regular childcare
- The grandparent had an established pattern of regular visitation
- Other circumstances indicate that lack of visitation would cause emotional or physical harm
Evidence of regular contact and emotional connection can be tremendously important when grandparents are trying to enforce their visitation rights.
Georgia Law Offers Two Opportunities for Grandparents to Request Visitation
Grandparents have two different options for asking a court to permit visitation. First, if there is an action already in progress to determine custody or visitation (such as a divorce case), then the grandparents can intervene and join in the case. They may also join in an existing action that involves adoption or termination of parental rights.
If there is not already a case in progress, grandparents can file an original court action for visitation. However, they cannot file this type of action during a year where another custody action has been filed and they cannot request visitation more often than every two years. In addition, grandparents cannot file an action for visitation if the child is living with both parents and the parents are not separated.
An Experienced Family Lawyer in Atlanta Helps Grandparents Preserve Their Relationships with Their Grandchildren
The bond between a grandparent and grandchild is often the most important in a child’s life. If you have been denied the opportunity to visit with your grandchildren, it is important to act quickly to protect the child’s welfare.
Talk to a dedicated family lawyer at Tessie D. Edwards & Associates to learn how we could fight for your rights and preserve your critical family relationships.