Morris County NJ Attorneys for Grandparent Issues
Providing Guidance to Grandparents and Parents in New Jersey
Throughout the course of a child’s life, he or she may have many distinct influences and relationships with family members. Often, one of the most important of these relationships is that which exists between the child and his or her grandparents. In some cases, a secure, sustained relationship between a child and his or her grandparents is profoundly beneficial. In these instances, parents may encourage and foster this relationship because it is in their child’s best interests. In other cases, family dynamics, resentment, and conflict after divorce can lead one parent to prevent their child’s grandparents from having access to their grandchildren. When issues involving grandparents’ rights to visitation arise, it is important to seek knowledgeable legal counsel from an attorney who can explain the rights and potential options available to both parents and grandparents in these situations.
If you find yourself dealing with grandparent issues, as a grandparent or a parent, turn to the divorce and family lawyers at Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, L.L.C., in Morristown for information, guidance, and aggressive advocacy. The team of legal professionals at our New Jersey family law firm is committed to helping all of our clients fight for their rights, and we have had significant successes in the area of grandparents’ rights in New Jersey. In fact, our attorneys recently achieved a landmark victory before the New Jersey Supreme Court on behalf of grandparents who were being denied access to their granddaughter. If you are facing a grandparent visitation or child custody issue in New Jersey, contact us today to discuss your case. One of our attorneys will be happy to answer your questions during a cost-free initial consultation.
Factors in Determining Grandparent Visitation in New Jersey
New Jersey first addressed issues involving grandparent visitation when it enacted the Grandparents’ Visitation Statute (N.J.S.A. 9:2-7.1) in 1972. The body of case law in this area is constantly evolving as circumstances change over time; however, the purpose remains to provide grandparents with a legal avenue through which to pursue visitation with their grandchildren if such visitation is currently being denied by the child’s parent(s). In New Jersey, courts examine a wide variety of factors when making a determination regarding grandparents’ rights to visitation with their grandchildren. Although the best interest of the child is the primary factor in these determinations, other relevant factors include:
- The existing relationship between the child and the grandparent
- The existing relationship between the child’s parents and grandparents
- The amount of time that has passed since the child last saw the grandparent
- The effect that such visitation will have on the relationship between the child and the child’s parents
- The child custody and parenting time arrangement between parents if they are currently divorced or separated
- If the applicant is a relative of a deceased parent, the co-parenting arrangement previously in place among the parents prior to the death of the deceased parent
- The good faith of the applicant in filing the application;
- Any history of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse or neglect by the party making application
As mentioned previously, the primary standard in grandparent visitation cases is the best interests of the child. Under current law in New Jersey, it is prima facie evidence that visitation is in the child’s best interest if the applicant had previously served as a full-time or frequent caretaker of the child. Prima facie simply means “accepted as correct.” However, the New Jersey Supreme Court imposed an additional burden upon petitioning grandparents with its decision in the case Moriarty v. Bradt in 2003. Now, grandparents must not only prove that visitation is in the child’s best interests, but that lack of visitation will be detrimental to the child’s well-being.
Grandparent Guardianship in New Jersey
In some cases, a grandparent may seek guardianship of a child if his or her parent can no longer care for the child for various reasons. For example, if the child has been removed from his or her parent’s care due to substance abuse or incarceration, the child’s grandparent may request custody or guardianship of the child to prevent the child from entering the New Jersey foster care system. The process of securing guardianship or some other level of custody may be overwhelming at the outset. However, our experienced child custody attorneys can assess your situation, determine how best to proceed with the case, and vigorously advocate to achieve a favorable resolution.
Contact our Morris County NJ Grandparents’ Rights Lawyers for More Information
If you have questions about grandparent issues, including grandparents’ rights to visitation or requests for guardianship, contact the Morris County law offices of Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark today at 973-840-8970 for a free consultation.