The bond between grandfathers and grandchildren is a special one, and many grandfathers play a unique role in their grandchildren’s lives. However, in some cases, a child’s parent doesn’t want a grandfather involved in a child’s life. For many grandfathers, not being able to see or spend time with a grandchild is devastating. Do grandfathers have any rights when it comes to being involved in the lives of their grandparents? It depends. Georgia law states that relationships between grandfathers and grandchildren should be supported when they’re in the child’s best interest.
Are you a grandfather who is concerned about not being able to spend time with your grandchildren? If so, our Atlanta grandfather’s rights attorneys are here to help. We understand how devastating it can be not to be allowed to spend time with your grandchild or grandchildren. Our skilled team of family law attorneys understands all of the rules and regulations related to grandfather’s rights in Georgia. After reviewing your case, we will advise you on your rights as a grandfather and how to enforce them. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation to begin the process of enforcing your rights.
Grandfather Visitation Rights in Georgia
During and after a contentious divorce, one parent may not allow his or her children to visit their ex-spouse’s parents. When a child’s parents separate or divorce, and one or both parents refuse any contact between the grandfather and the child, the grandfather can request visitation rights. Under Georgia law, grandfathers have a right to petition the court to request visitation rights to see their grandchildren. When the child’s parents are separated or divorced, the grandfather can “join” or “intervene” as a party in an existing visitation or child custody dispute between the parents. A grandfather can also join in an action filed by one parent to terminate the other parent’s parental rights.
Limitations to a Grandfather’s Rights in Georgia
Grandfathers do not have the same rights as parents, and there are some serious limitations to a grandfather’s visitation rights. When the grandchild lives with both parents, and the parents have not separated, a grandfather does not have a right to file a petition for visitation rights. Parents who remain together can decide whether or not to allow their children to visit grandfathers.
Visitation rights are only granted to grandfathers when their grandchild is in the custody of one parent, typically the parent who is not blood-related to the grandfathers seeking visitation rights. Georgia courts will typically not grant a grandfather visitation rights unless the grandfather was able to visit the grandchildren frequently before the separation or divorce of the parents, and one of the parents is refusing to allow the grandfathers to see the child.
In Georgia, grandfathers can only file a motion for visitation rights once every two years. Additionally, they cannot file an original action themselves when there is already an action involving the child in front of the court. Judges are more likely to allow visitation for a grandfather when the court is already intervening in a child custody matter involving the child. After the court grants child visitation rights, the child’s guardian or parent does have the right to petition the court to revoke the visitation through a formal proceeding. However, the parents can only make this kind of request in a Georgia court once per 2 years.
Succeeding in a Petition for Grandfather’s Visitation
How do judges determine whether or not to grant a grandfather’s visitation petition? As with all child custody matters, the court will look to the best interest of the child. When the court finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that the following two requirements are met, they will grant the petition for grandfather visitation:
- The visitation is in the child’s best interest, and
- The child will suffer some kind of harm if the court doesn’t permit visitation.
When making the decision, the court will consider the child’s relationship with his or her parents and the child’s relationship with his or her grandfather. Under Georgia law, there is a presumption that the court should allow visitation with one or both parents because the court wishes to encourage parent-child relationships whenever possible. There is no presumption that the court should allow grandfather visitation, however. Courts will consider the following factors when determining whether the child will suffer some type of harm if they do not allow grandfather visitation:
- Whether the child has lived with his or her grandfather before
- Whether the grandfather have provided any type of financial support for the child
- Whether there was an established grandfather visitation pattern before the separation
Seeking Child Custody As a Grandfather in Georgia
Some of our clients who are grandfathers would like to seek custody of their grandchildren. When grandfathers see custody, the court treats them as regular third-parties. In other words, there is no special treatment offered to grandfathers who are seeking custody of their grandchild. This rule makes it difficult for grandfathers to gain custody of their grandchildren when the child’s parents are available and fit to parent. However, when grandfathers believe that the parent is not fit to have custody of their grandchild, legal options are available.
Contact Our Atlanta Grandfather Rights Lawyers
Whether you are a grandfather seeking the right to visit your grandchild or a parent involved in a child custody dispute, you need an experienced lawyer on your side. At Carter/Pilgrim, we understand that child custody issues can be complex and emotionally challenging. Our compassionate lawyers take the time to listen to your concerns and goals to advise you of your legal options. We will advocate for your rights throughout the legal process. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation and learn more about your options.