Grandparents can play an important role in a child’s life and often develop a close and loving relationship with their grandchild. It can be very distressing if a child’s parents stop the child’s grandparents from having contact with the child.
Unfortunately, grandparents in Georgia cannot seek visitation with their grandchild if the child’s parents are still married or are separated but not divorced. Married parents have the right to decide who will have contact with their child.
However, grandparents in Georgia can seek visitation with their grandchild if the child’s parents divorce, but only under very limited circumstances.
When can grandparents seek visitation?
Any child custody and visitation decisions made by the court must be in the child’s best interests. Thus, grandparent visitation will only be granted if there is clear and convincing evidence that the child’s health or welfare would suffer without said visitation.
Simply being separated from a grandparent is not considered harmful to the child if the grandparent and grandchild did not have a substantial preexisting relationship. However, reasonable visitation might be awarded if:
- The child resided with the grandparent for at least six months
- The grandparent paid for the child’s basic needs for a minimum of 12 months
- The grandparent regularly visited the grandparent
- The grandparent regularly provided childcare of the child
- Emotional or physical harm would occur in the absence of visitation
It might not seem fair that grandparents cannot seek visitation just because they would be separated from their grandchild if the child’s parents divorce. After all, grandparents love their grandchild and want to continue having a relationship with them.
Still, it is a parent’s right to decide who has contact with their child. This is still true after a divorce, except under limited circumstances. If the denial of grandparent visitation would not harm the child’s health or welfare or is not in the child’s best interest, it will not be granted.