One of the great joys of a grandparent’s life is to spend time with their grandchildren. It is not always an easy thing to do for some. Distance, schedules or a host of other logistical problems may get in the way. Sometimes the circumstances are even more complicated. Maybe one parent has died and the other parent keeps the child away from the in-laws. What if the grandparents have a falling out with their child and that situation keeps everyone away? Divorce may also keep grandparents from seeing their grandkids.
In Georgia, the law provides that a grandparent can file an action for visitation rights of their grandchild. The grandparents can intervene in actions concerning custody, the divorce of the child’s parents, if the parental rights are terminated or visitation rights of the child. The statute also provides that if a stepparent adopts the child, it would not have an effect on the grandparents’ rights to seek visitation.
The court will allow grandparents reasonable visitation rights if the visitations would be in the best interest of the child. There would also be consideration if the wellbeing and health of the child would be affected if the visitation is not granted.
Factors in granting grandparent visitation or custody
Visitation is one thing, however, there are situations when they might also want to gain custody. A child living in an abusive home could be one reason grandparents look to pursue custody, but it is not the only reason. Situations of financial or emotional neglect may also be viable reasons. If a grandparent would like either visitation or custody of their grandchildren, they should consider these factors:
- Has the child lived with the grandparents for at least six months?
- Did the grandparent provide financial support for basic needs of the child for one year?
- Was there a pattern of visitation or care of the child by the grandparent?
- Is there a circumstance that exists showing physical or emotional harm would likely result if visitation is not granted?
If granted, grandparent’s rights will be hard to take away
If a grandparent does gain visitation or custody, it may be difficult for a parent to modify this arrangement in the future. The court may find that it is in the best interests of the child for the relationship with their grandparents to continue.
It is natural for grandparents to want to be an integral part of their grandchildren’s lives. In Georgia, grandparents may have options to protect their grandchildren if needed or keep their relationship with their grandchildren going.