Nearly 245,000 children in the State of Georgia live with their grandparents. This may be due to a variety of reasons. However, if you are the grandparent of a child in a household going through a divorce, you may want to know if you have any rights, including visitation rights, as a grandparent.
Luckily, certain circumstances permit a grandparent to file for custody or visitation in the State of Georgia, and these are spelled out in the Georgia Code in section 19-7-3. If you are concerned about your rights as a grandparent, the Platt Family law firm is here to help.
How Do Grandparents Get Visitation Rights?
In Georgia, Grandparents do not have an automatic right to visitation with their grandchildren. There are a limited number of circumstances in which grandparents can get visitation rights in Georgia. For example, if minor children live with both parents and the parents are not separated, grandparent visitation rights will not be awarded. . However, if the parents are separated and the children are not living with both parents, a grandparent can possibly initiate an action for reasonable visitation with their grandchildren.
Grandparent visitation rights are also awarded when the health or welfare of the grandchildren are at risk for harm without such visitation. The best interests of the grandchildren must be served by such visitation.
The court looks to several factors to determine whether the grandchildren would experience harm if the court denied the grandparents visitation, inclduing:
● The grandchildren lived with the grandparents for six months or more;
● The grandparents supported the grandchildren financially for at least one year;
● The grandparents regularly visited and/or cared for grandchildren, establishing a pattern; or
● The facts of the case indicate that emotional or physical harm would be reasonably likely to result if there is no visitation with the grandparents.
What Are the Steps to File for Grandparents’ Rights in Georgia?
If you are a grandparent and want to take the steps to get visitation, you must follow certain steps. In general, you must:
1. Draft a petition for visitation;
2. File the petition and serve the petition to the other parties;
Can a Parent Deny a Grandparent Visitation in Georgia?
If there is not a court order requiring grandparent visitation, a parent can deny visitation to a grandparent. On the other hand, if there is a court order that requires grandparent visitation and a parent tries to prevent or withhold visitation, the grandparent probably has recourse. The grandparent might be able to enforce the visitation rights in a contempt proceeding against the parent.
What Are Typical Issues That Come Up in Grandparent Visitation Cases?
Even if there is a court order granting grandparent visitation, there might be issues that would require the court’s intervention. For example, if a parent denies visitation because they do not like what the grandparent said or did to the child. If a parent dies or goes to jail, another person may have temporary custody of the child(ren) and deny visitation to the grandparent.
It may be best to talk to a legal professional about your options, in these situations. While courts often look at the best interests of the children, they will also want to know the specifics about your relationship with your grandchildren. For example, the court will take into account things like:
● Whether you have had regular contact with your grandchildren
● When you most recently visited with your grandchildren
● The age of your grandchild or grandchildren
● Whether your grandchildren want to spend time with you
● The depth of the relationship you have with your grandchildren
● Whether the denial of visitation will harm your grandchildren
Platt Law Is Here to Help you Navigate the Process
As a grandparent, it is easy to worry about your grandchildren. Don’t fret; we are here to help. We know that every story is unique, but our dedicated team is here to guide every family through the process, whether you want to establish visitation rights or are seeking to enforce rights that have already been granted. At Platt Family Law, we have ample experience in family law and understand Georgia’s legal system. We are committed to achieving the best outcome for you and your family. If you are considering filing for grandparent visitation rights, we can aid you along the way. To schedule an appointment and learn more about your options, call us at 404-255-3434 or fill out the contact form on our website.