Grandparents often play a valuable role in the lives of their grandchildren. They offer love, support, and guidance that parents might not provide. They also are an asset for the family as an alternative caregiver for their grandchildren.
However, some grandparents are denied visitation with their grandchildren. Severing that relationship can be harmful to the child.
Are you fighting for the right to see your grandchildren in Monmouth County, New Jersey? If so, you need experienced grandparent rights attorneys to handle your case.
Our top-rated New Jersey child custody lawyers have more than 20 years of experience. Attorney Jennifer J. McCaskill has been recognized by numerous organizations, including being named as a Super Lawyer in New Jersey for seven years.
If you feel your grandchild is in an unsafe environment or you are being denied visitation, call our Monmouth County grandparents’ rights lawyers at (732) 747-1882 for a free consultation. Let’s work together to protect your right to have a close relationship with your grandchildren.
How The Law Office of Jennifer J. McCaskill, LLC Can Help You Assert Your Rights as a Grandparent in Monmouth County
Grandparents can request time with their grandchildren under New Jersey’s grandparents’ rights laws. However, getting a court order granting you visitation with your grandchildren is not always easy. You might need to enter into a legal dispute with your children or other parties for the right to visit your grandchildren.
We view our clients as family at The Law Office of Jennifer J. McCaskill, LLC. It is our job to protect your best interests and your future. We handle the most complex child custody cases, including cases involving grandparents’ rights.
We are compassionate, aggressive, and knowledgeable Monmouth County child custody lawyers. Attorney Jennifer McCaskill has a proven track record as a seasoned trial lawyer and skillful family law mediator. She is also a panelist for the Early Settlement Program in Monmouth County.
When you hire our award-winning Monmouth County family law attorneys, you can trust we will:
- Offer personalized representation designed to meet your specific needs and goals
- Listen to your situation so we can gain a thorough understanding of the issues involved in your case
- Explain New Jersey grandparent rights laws and how those laws apply to your case
- Work to protect your grandchildren’s best interests
- Gather evidence to build a strategy for obtaining visitation with your grandchildren
- Work with leading experts in various fields to gain evidence that can strengthen your case
- Use family law mediation and negotiation to resolve the matter if possible
- Prepare your case for trial and argue the issue before a judge, if necessary
Our knowledge of and experience with New Jersey laws help our Monmouth County grandparents’ rights attorneys prepare winning strategies for our clients. Call The Law Office of Jennifer J. McCaskill, LLC today to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced grandparent rights lawyer in Monmouth County, NJ.
What Is New Jersey’s Grandparent Rights Law?
According to New Jersey Statutes Annotated 9:2-7.1, a grandparent may petition the court for an order of visitation. The petition is filed with the Superior Court of the county where the grandchild resides. The parents are served with notice of the application for visitation and a notice to appear in court for the hearing.
The grandparents have the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that granting visitation with their grandchild would be in the child’s best interest. However, if the grandparent had been the full-time caregiver for the child in the past, it is prima facie evidence that visitation is in the best interest of the child.
How Does the Court Decide Whether Grandparent Visitation Is in the Child’s Best Interest?
The grandparent visitation statute lists eight factors courts must consider when deciding grandparent visitation cases:
- The relationship between the grandparents and the child.
- The relationship between the grandparents and each of the child’s parents or caregivers.
- How long has it been since the child last had contact with the grandparents?
- The effect that visitation with the grandparents will have on the relationship between the child and the parents or caregivers.
- The time-sharing arrangement that is in place between the parents if they are divorced.
- The good faith of the grandparents filing for visitation rights.
- A history of neglect or abuse by the grandparents.
The judge may also consider any other factors deemed relevant to deciding what is in the child’s best interest. The court uses the evidence presented by the parties to evaluate the factors. Proving the case by a preponderance of the evidence requires the grandparents to convince the judge that allowing visitation is more likely than not in the child’s best interest.
Why Must Grandparents Ask the Court To Order Visitation in Monmouth County, NJ?
A grandparent cannot petition the court for visitation within a divorce action. The application will be separate and apart from the child’s parents’ divorce case. However, divorce is a common reason for petitioning for grandparent rights.
Grandparents may petition the court for visitation when the parents are married or separated. They can also petition the court for visitation if one parent dies.
Most commonly, these petitions are filed because the grandparent is denied the right to visit their grandchildren. The reason why the parents will not let the grandparent see the child might be valid, or they could be acting out of anger or revenge. Sometimes, the parents might “blackmail” the grandparents for visitation to get something the parents want.
Regardless, hiring an experienced Monmouth County grandparent rights attorney who understands the law and how to use evidence effectively to convince the court your grandchild will benefit from a relationship with you is crucial.
Our legal team at The Law Office of Jennifer J. McCaskill, LLC understands the law and how to use the law in your favor as we work to obtain visitation with your grandchildren.
Are Grandparents’ Rights Automatic in New Jersey?
No, grandparents do not automatically have the right to see their grandchildren. There must be sufficient evidence to override a parent’s wish to keep their child away from their grandparents. State and federal courts have upheld a parent’s right to make these decisions.
In some cases, we must prove that it would be detrimental to the grandchild to deny grandparent rights. For example, suddenly denying grandparent visitation when the grandparent has been in the child’s life for a long time could cause emotional distress and harm to the child. There must be a valid reason for terminating visitation with the grandparent to justify such an action.
Our Monmouth County family law attorneys analyze each factor in your case. We carefully consider how those factors impact your grandchild to develop a compelling and convincing argument to grant you the right to see your grandchild.
Petitioning for Custody as a Grandparent in New Jersey
Petitioning for custody of your grandchild is a different type of case than seeking visitation. You are seeking to remove your grandchild from their parent’s or caregiver’s custody. As such, you must prove there is sufficient reason to remove custody from a parent and that you are the best person to have custody.
Reasons why grandparents might petition for custody of their grandchild include:
- The parent is unfit to have care and custody of the child
- Death of the parents
- Alcohol or drug abuse by the parents
- The parent’s criminal activity or conviction of a crime
- The child is being abused or neglected
- The child is in a harmful and/or dangerous environment
The petitioning party (i.e., the grandparent) has the burden of proving their allegations are true. Therefore, there must be evidence of the parent’s misconduct and/or danger to the child before the court will entertain removing a child from a parent’s custody.
As with the grandparent statute, New Jersey child custody laws set forth the factors that the court must consider when determining a child’s best interest in a custody case. Those factors include:
- The parent’s ability to care for the needs of the child
- The safety of the child from abuse and neglect
- The quality and continuity of the child’s education
- The parent’s willingness or unwillingness to accept custody
- The relationship between the child and the parents
- The child’s preference if they are of sufficient age and capacity to make an intelligent decision
- The fitness of the parents
- The stability of the home environment being offered
Many grandparents have custody of and are raising their grandchildren. The reasons why grandparents have become the primary caregivers for their grandchildren vary. Some parents willingly sign over child custody to the grandparent, but other grandparents may need to fight to obtain custody.
In either case, our Monmouth County grandparents’ rights attorneys at The Law Office of Jennifer J. McCaskill, LLC, are here to help you negotiate a custody arrangement or fight to remove your grandchildren from an unsafe environment.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Monmouth County Grandparents’ Rights Lawyers
We understand what is at stake and will do everything possible to achieve a positive outcome in your case. Call us today at (732) 747-1882 to request your free case review with an experienced Monmouth County grandparents’ rights attorney. We are here to help you when you have run out of options.