Posted April 2, 2021
By Brian Budic, Esq.
New Jersey Courts have long recognized the unquantifiable benefits of a relationship between children and their grandparents. Specifically, a New Jersey Supreme Court decision stated “[a] very special relationship often arises and continues between grandparents and grandchildren. The tensions and conflicts which commonly mar relations between parents and children are often absent between those very same parents and their grandchildren.”
Despite recognizing the important relationships that often develop between grandparents and grandchildren, parents retain a fundamental right to make decisions regarding the care, custody, and nurturing of their own children, including their children’s relationship with grandparents. In a situation where a parent restricts a grandparent from visiting with their grandchild, grandparents have the right to file an application with the Superior Court of New Jersey for visitation.
A Court will only grant a grandparent’s request to spend time with their grandchild if the failure to have visitation would be detrimental to the child. Therefore, a grandparent seeking visitation with a child must prove to the Court that visitation is necessary to avoid harm to their grandchild.
In deciding whether grandparent visitation is in the child’s best interests, and whether harm would result from a lack of grandparent visitation, the New Jersey Legislature has set forth specific factors to be considered by the Court. The factors include:
(1) The relationship between the child and the grandparent;
(2) The relationship between each of the child’s parents, or the person with whom the child is residing, and the grandparent;
(3) The time which has elapsed since the child last had contact with the grandparent;
(4) The effect that visitation will have on the relationship between the child and the child’s parents;
(5) If the parents of the child are divorced or separated, the parenting time schedule which exists between the parents;
(6) The good faith of the grandparent in filing the application with the Court;
(7) Any history of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse or neglect by the grandparent; and
(8) A catch-all clause for any other consideration relevant to the best interests of the child.
Courts will consider each of the factors listed above in determining whether it is in a child’s best interest to have visitation with a grandparent and whether harm would result from a denial of such visitation. As the facts of each case vary, the Court will weigh the totality of the circumstances in determining whether grandparent visitation is appropriate. If you have any questions regarding this blog or other concerns about grandparent visitation rights in New Jersey, please contact my office.
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