In all fifty states in the country, grandparents have a right to ask a family law judge to grant them visitation time with their grandchildren. The applicable New Jersey statute allows both the grandparents and the siblings of children living in New Jersey to file a visitation application. As is the case in child custody cases involving two parents, the court will want to know whether this visitation is in the best interest of the child, and an applicant must prove that this would be the case.
There are eight factors that a New Jersey court will consider in its determination of whether to grant grandparent visitation, with one of those factors being an open-ended consideration of anything relevant to the best interests of the child. The judge will also need to determine whether the grandparent is making the application to the court in good faith. Another factor taken into account will be what the relationship is like between the child and the applicant grandparent as well as the relationship between the child’s parents or the child’s guardian and the applicant.
Other factors that are considered include the amount of time that has passed since the applicant last saw the child and the effect that allowing the requested visitation would be on the child and on the parent or on the person with whom the child is residing. The court will also consider any existing custody arrangements between parents that are separated or divorced. Of course, a court would want to know about any history of abuse or neglect by the applicant grandparent.
It is generally the case that a grandparent would only be requesting court intervention in matters of visitation if the grandparent had a bad relationship with the child’s parents. Thus, a grandparent considering making such a request may want to consult with a family law attorney to discuss options such as mediation, which may be helpful in deescalating hostilities between the grandparents and the parents.
Source: Findlaw, “New Jersey Grandparent Visitation Rights“, September 07, 2014