Archive for June, 2011

Grandparents: Know Your Rights in Child Visitation Cases

By: Frank Tournour, Lawyer

Divorce can prove to be a difficult undertaking for many families. When a married couple decides that they no longer wish to live together, a number of other people may be heavily impacted by their actions. In some cases, despite the fact that both parents truly wish to spare their children any additional loss of family ties, their feelings of anger or resentment may overshadow their ability to behave in a manner that best serves their children.

Grandparents, especially those on the side of the family that does not win custody, sometimes find themselves estranged from their grandchildren. The Law Office of Frank E. Tournour, Esq., believes that grandparents and their grandchildren should have the right to enjoy close, healthy relationships. New Jersey law holds that if grandparents make the case to family law courts that visitation with them is in the best interest of their grandchildren, they should be granted the right see the children on a regular basis.

In cases involving grandparents, the court considers such questions as whether there is a strong relationship between the children and grandparents, whether the grandparents get along well with the children’s parents or guardians, and when the grandparents last saw or spoke to the children. In addition, the court examines whether the grandparent is petitioning solely for the purpose of obtaining visitation and not, for instance, to annoy or harass either party in the divorce. Finally, the court examines the grandparents’ history with the children, including any evidence of abuse.

Pursuing visitation starts with filing an application in county court to request visitation. The court serves the custodial parent or legal guardian with the papers. Once all parties have been informed about the petition for grandparent visitation, the court sets a date for a case management conference. During this hearing, the judge works with the parties to reach a settlement to which both the parents and the grandparents are amenable. If this process is unsuccessful, the judge often mandates that the parties utilize mediation services to resolve the issue. If mediation is not ordered, the judge generally schedules a plenary hearing in which both parties may present evidence.

If you are a grandparent hoping to gain visitation with a grandchild, please call the Law Office of Frank Tournour at (732) 993-4811.