Most parents recognize the strong bond and positive influence grandparents can have on the lives of their grandchildren. Still, each Denville family attorney at our firm has seen cases where divorce ends this valuable relationship. In some cases, there are valid reasons for preventing visitation by grandparents and other individuals with close bonds to the children. In other cases, however, ex-spouses attempt to punish each other by preventing visitation without valid reasons. When it serves the best interests of the children, anyone with a strong connection can turn to the NJ courts to request visitation rights.
Visitation is Possible, But Not Guaranteed
Under NJ law, anyone with a legitimate interest in the children can seek visitation rights. When parents prevent this access, the courts look at factors such as the following to identify if visitation would serve the best interests of the children:
- The nature and quality of the relationship between the child and the applicant
- The relationship between the applicant and each of the child’s parents or the child’s guardian
- How much time has passed since the applicant’s last contact with the children and the reasons for the lapse
- The effect that visitation is likely to have on the relationship between the child and the parents or guardians
- Time-sharing arrangements currently in effect for divorced parents.
Of course, this not a full list of issues that the courts address. For example, their decisions may differ when parents are divorced versus when one parent is deceased. In the end, judicial discretion typically plays a major role in the decision based on any number of unique concerns for a given case.
Compelling Evidence is a Key Factor in the Success of Visitation Applications
Visitation applications are not typically one-sided. A grandparent or other individual, such as a sibling or a step-parent, must provide compelling evidence that illustrates clear reasons for the importance of visitation. However, a custodial parent or other individual who currently has physical custody of the child may also bring evidence showing historical reasons to prevent visitation. Clearly, a judge is not likely to grant visitation rights to a documented child abuser or sex offender.
Most cases do not typically involve such significant reasons for denial. Still, without advice and support from a lawyer with extensive experience in family law and child custody issues, grandparents and other applicants can lose out on the opportunity to continue a valuable relationship that benefits the child. To learn more about visitation rights and get help building a strong case, call us at (973) 537-1700, or use our convenient online contact form.