While cases involving grandparents’ rights are not nearly as common as parental right cases, there are still quite a few cases involving grandparent visitation and custody. If you are a grandparent, you may wonder if you have the right to claim visitation or custody of your grandchildren, and the answer is yes.
While Georgia does have established grandparents’ rights, it is still often an uphill battle. The courts are biased toward parents and they tend to win most cases. However, if you do win a grandparent custody or visitation case, it is incredibly difficult for a parent to change that court ruling.
Before deciding that filing a claim for custody or visitation is right for you, here are a few things you should know about grandparents’ rights in Georgia.
- You can claim grandparent custody or visitation rights if the child’s parents are married, separated, or divorced. Visitation rights will come into play if the court determines that it would hurt a child not to see their grandparents. This can even be found true if the parents are good parents. Custody rights will come into play if the parents have problems at home and the problems would be easily fixed by the child living with the grandparents.
- The court will take into consideration the child’s best interests as well as potential harm to the child. Harm to the child does not only mean a situation in which the child is physically abused. It can also involve financial or emotional neglect. You will stand a better chance of winning your claim if the child has lived with you for at least six months, you have provided financial assistance to the child for at least one year, the child has come to expect regular visitation with you, or the child is suffering from other problems due to your absence in his or her life.
- You already have a strong connection or bond with your grandchild. In most grandparents’ right cases, the child will have a lot of say concerning custody or visitation, which means that if you already have a bond with the child, it will help. Even in cases where the parents fight against visitation or custody, the court may still award generous visitation if you are already bonded to the child.
- You may join an existing custody or visitation case. Possibly the simplest way to exercise your rights as a grandprent is to join an existing case. Your claims for visitation or custody can be added to the case that a parent has already filed for visitation or custody, such as during a divorce. Otherwise, you can only file an action every two years in an effort to win custody or visitation.
- Grandparents’ rights are hard to take away once established. If you are granted custody or visitation, it is hard to take those rights away. That is why it is important for a parent to consider this before they grant guardianship or custody to a grandparent.
Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney
If you are a grandparent who is considering filing a claim for visitation or custody of your grandchildren, the attorneys at Lankford & Moore Law can help you through the process. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation and let us help you protect your rights to see your grandchildren.