Most grandparents want to be a part of their grandchildren’s lives. Unfortunately, divorce or strained family circumstances can threaten the bond between a grandparent and their grandchildren, unless the courts intervene. If you fear losing contact with your grandchild due to a divorce, or if you believe that your grandchild’s parents are unfit to care for them, our family lawyers can help. Contact the Don Turner Legal Team today and see how we can help you seek visitation or custody as a grandparent.Seeking Visitation as a Grandparent
Georgia law allows grandparents the right to seek visitation with their grandchildren. You can assert this right as a grandparent by filing a court action for visitation, as long as you have not filed an action for visitation for at least two years and your grandchild's parents have separated. You can also petition for visitation rights by joining a legal action involving the custody of your grandchild, the divorce of their parents, termination of the rights of one of the child's parents, or visitation rights.
Note that you cannot seek reasonable visitation simply because you want to stay in contact with your grandchildren. In order to be awarded visitation, you will have to prove to the court that granting you visitation rights would be in your grandchild's best interests. This means that you will need to present clear and convincing evidence that your grandchild's health or welfare would suffer if you were not granted visitation rights. This is why you will want an experienced family law attorney on your side.
When considering whether or not to grant you visitation, there are several factors the court will look at in order to determine if this decision would be in the best interests of the child. You will be more likely to be awarded reasonable visitation by the judge if:
- Your minor grandchild lived with you for more than six months
- You regularly cared for and visited your grandchild
- You financially supported your grandchild's basic needs for at least one year
- There are other factors that suggest that denying you visitation would emotionally or physically harm your grandchild
Note that the state of Georgia allows parents to ask the court to revoke or amend a grandparent's visitation rights, as long as they can demonstrate a sound reason for making this request. However, although the courts will respect a parent's wished and judgment regarding grandparent visitation it is ultimately up to the court to decide whether to revoke or amend a grandparent's right to visitation. Additionally, parents can only make this sort of request once every two years.Seeking Custody as a Grandparent
Although you can seek custody as a grandparent in Georgia, it will be difficult to do so. The court determines child custody arrangements based on what they believe is the best interests of the child. This includes a presumption that a child would benefit the most from living with their parents. Grandparents are not given any special legal status by the court and are considered third parties, which can make it difficult for them to gain custody if their grandchild's parents are available.
In order to gain custody of your grandchildren, you will need to prove to the court that this arrangement would be in your grandchild's best interests and that your grandchildren will suffer short or long-term physical or emotional harm if they are left in the custody of their parents. If you can prove that a parent is abusive or neglectful, unable to care for their children, or mentally incompetent, then the courts will be more likely to grand you custody over your grandchildren.
Grandparents who are raising their grandchildren are allowed to apply for child support services at their local DCSS office free of charge. If you qualify for child support payments, then both the mother and father will be responsible for said payments, as they would both be considered the noncustodial parent. Our family law attorneys can help you understand Georgia's child support guidelines and detemrine if you qualify for child support.Our Family Law Attorneys Can Help You
Seeking custody and visitation as a grandparent can be a difficult battle, and it isn't one you want to face on your own. Our family lawyers have years of experience helping grandparents defend their rights. If you are a grandparent who wishes to seek visitation rights or custody over your grandchildren, contact our law office today for a free consultation.