How to Obtain Visitation Rights as a Grandparent
Becoming a grandparent is like the icing on the cake of parenthood, as you are finally able to be the fun, carefree remodel you could not be for your child. So, if something happens that prevents you from seeing your grandchild, it can be devastating. Fortunately, the state of Michigan has revised its laws so that grandparents are now entitled to visitation. Grandparents’ rights can be found under the Child Custody Act of 1970, Section 722.27b. The code was revised to include grandparents’ rights in 2005.
If you are a grandparent who has been denied visitation with your grandchildren for whatever reason—whether because your own child passed away, your own child lost custody, or you and your child are feuding—do not lose hope. The Grand Rapids grandparents’ rights attorneys at Van Den Heuvel Law Office can help you petition for visitation and ensure that you see your grandchildren once more.
When You Have the Right to Pursue Visitation in Court
Michigan recognizes the need for grandparents in a child’s life, which is why they have made it fairly easy for grandparents to obtain visitation rights. Unlike other states in which grandparents need to prove neglect, abuse, or some other extreme circumstance, Michigan only requires that a grandparent prove one of the following to be true:
- The parents were not married when the child was born and the parents do not currently reside together;
- The child’s parents are in the process of getting a divorce, legal separation, or annulment or have already done so;
- The child is in the custody of a person other than his or her parents or he or she does not live with a parent; or
- The grandparent has looked after the juvenile within the past year despite the lack of a court order mandating that he or she do so.
Michigan has these laws in place to protect grandparents’ rights in the event of an ugly divorce or separation, or to ensure ongoing contact even if their own child does not have or care to have a relationship with the child.
How to Get Visitation as a Grandparent
If any of the above apply, a grandparent has every right to petition for visitation. However, that does not automatically mean that they will be granted rights. The court will request a hearing, at which both parents and grandparent will be given an opportunity to make their cases. The judge will enter the hearing with the presumption that the parent denied visitation because it was what was in the best interest of the child. If the grandparent hopes to gain visitation, he or she will have to prove that presumption wrong. In order to do so, he or she must prove that the child will suffer physically, mentally, and/or emotionally if denied the grandparent’s love and care.
If two fit parents file a motion to deny the grandparents’ visitation request, the court will dismiss the case and the grandparent will be forced to regain visitation rights sans court intervention.
Retain the Help of an Attorney Before Petitioning for Custody
Unfortunately, the courts have made it difficult for grandparents to gain any type of legal visitation rights or custodial rights, as the courts presume that two fit parents would not deny visitation without good reason for doing so. That said, sometimes a grandparent is more of a parental figure than a parent, or a grandparent is the only stable figure in a child’s life. In those cases, the state of Michigan does allow grandparents the opportunity to pursue visitation. If you want to pursue visitation rights of your grandchild, call the grandparents’ rights attorneys Van Den Heuvel Law Office to schedule your consultation today.