Rights of Michigan Grandparents to Custody and Visitation
Divorce and separation impact the parties involved as well as others around them. Impacted individuals include the couple’s children and their extended family members, (including their parents and siblings). A grandparent who is used to babysitting his or her grandchild each day while the child’s parents are at work may find that one or both parents no longer want to use the grandparent’s services after a divorce. In other cases, grandparents who are accustomed to having their child and grandchild visit them regularly may find that the child is not brought over for visitation as frequently, if at all.
Michigan law does not grant grandparents as many rights to custody or visitation as are granted to the child’s natural and/or legal parents. However, grandparents may be able to petition the court in some circumstances and request that a court award them grandparent visitation time with their grandchildren.
In Michigan, a presumption exists that a mentally fit parent is able to make a rational decision to not permit his or her child to have visitation with grandparents and that such a decision is not presumed injurious to the child’s welfare. This is the first major hurdle that grandparents seeking visitation must overcome. To do so, the grandparents must present evidence that shows by the preponderance of the evidence that denying grandparent visitation is likely to be injurious to the child’s physical, emotional, or mental well-being.
Similarly, grandparents who are seeking custody over their grandchild against the wishes of one or both parents must overcome the presumption that both parents are fit and able to parent the child. This is accomplished by proving that the parents are unfit in some manner to properly care for the child. This involves more than simply showing the parents are of limited means or that the child is not having certain milestone childhood experiences: there must be evidence establishing that the physical, mental, and/or emotional health of the children is being endangered by the parents’ behavior. Keep in mind that if two fit parents sing an affidavit stating that they oppose an order for grandparenting time, the court may dismiss the action.
The Second Hurdle: The Child’s Best Interests
Even if grandparents manage to overcome these presumptions, they must still show that what it is they are requesting (custody or visitation) is in the child’s best interest. There are twelve nonexclusive factors that a court is to consider when determining what is in a child’s best interest.
Work with a Michigan Family Attorney
Grandparents in Michigan seeking to obtain custody of or visitation with their grandchildren face an uphill battle. It is best to consult with an experienced grandparents’ rights attorney who can closely examine the facts and circumstances of your situation and advise you of your specific rights. At Van Den Heuvel Law Office, our legal team is experienced in helping litigants in custody and visitation disputes locate evidence and witnesses to support their goals and presenting this evidence and testimony in court. Contact our office at (616) 698-0000 or contact us through our website to learn how we can provide you with a significant advantage in your attempt to obtain custody of or visitation with your grandchildren.