Grandparents’ Rights in Georgia: What You Need to Know
When the Court is weighing the options for a child’s living situation during a divorce or custody case, it all centers around the parents. Still, we all know that a child and their parents don’t live in a vacuum. The other family members and friends around a child can have an important impact on their upbringing. Does that matter in the legal world, though? As a grandparent, do you have any legal rights to your grandchild? Here’s what you need to know.
Do grandparents have a right to visit their grandchildren?
Legally speaking, grandparents do not automatically have the right to visit their grandchildren. Like anyone else, the parent the child is living with does not need to allow you to see your grandchild. This is a common concern for grandparents, especially if your grandchild is living with their other parent instead of your son or daughter.
Can a grandparent receive court-ordered visitation with their grandchild?
In the past, a grandparent could request court-ordered visitation with their grandchild. This involved a lengthy process and required grandparents to demonstrate to the Court that the grandparent(s) had formed a close bond with the grandchild, and it would be in the best interest of the grandchild to be able to continue a relationship with the grandparent(s).
However, in 2018, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that granting visitation to grandparents against the will of a child’s parents is unconstitutional because it interferes with the parents’ rights to raise the child the way they see fit. As a result, the Court no longer grants visitation orders to grandparents.
Can grandparents fight for custody of their grandchildren?
In Georgia, the Court assumes that a child is best served by living with one or both parents until they see strong evidence that proves otherwise. To get custody, there would need to be an extreme circumstance that leaves both of your grandchild’s parents unable to care for them, such as drug addiction, incarceration, or severe mental illness. In essence, you have to show that the child would suffer short term or long term emotional or physical harm if left with the biological parent(s) and that placement of custody with the grandparent(s) would serve the grandchild’s best interest. If the Court makes this finding, grandparents are a likely choice for custody because the Court wants to keep families as intact as possible.
Maintaining a relationship with your grandchild
As we mentioned above, it’s very difficult to win custody of your grandchild over their parents. No matter what the situation, though, your first step is to call a family law attorney. We’ll be able to take a close look at your situation and discuss your options. We know which types of details the Court needs to know and have the experience to advocate for you. At the same time, we have the knowledge to be honest with you about your chances for success and can counsel you on your best legal path.
As stressful as divorces and custody battles are for the immediate family, they’re also difficult for anyone who loves the child because you aren’t sure what the future holds. If you’re a grandparent who’s concerned about your grandchild and your rights when it comes to staying in their life, call our family law attorneys to learn more. Be sure to follow us on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well for more tips.