Standing Up for Third-Party and Grandparents’ Rights
It is becoming more common for grandparents to play an instrumental role in their grandchildren’s lives. Some grandparents provide primary care on a part-time or even a full-time basis. Other third parties, including stepparents, may be in this situation as well.
In these cases, grandparents or third parties may wish to petition the New Jersey family court for custody of or visitation with the children. The laws regarding third-party rights are complex so it is best to work with an experienced lawyer who can interpret the statute and protect your rights. At Shimalla, Wechsler, Lepp & D’Onofrio, LLP, our attorneys have the knowledge and experience necessary to help you understand your rights.
When Grandparents Seek Custody or Visitation
Grandparents may have a legal standing to petition for custody or visitation, depending on the situation and the nature of the relationship they have with the child. Perhaps unmarried or divorced parents have decided to prevent grandparents from seeing the children. In limited circumstances, the grandparents may seek visitation rights to maintain their relationship with the grandchildren. Under New Jersey law, a grandparent can obtain visitation rights if he or she can prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that visitation is in the child’s best interests. The court will look at many factors such as:
- The relationship between the child and grandparent
- The relationship between the parent and grandparent
- How much time has elapsed since the child and grandparent have had contact
- The impact of visitation on the relationship between the parent and child
- The existing time-sharing arrangement, if parents are divorced or separated
- The grandparent’s good faith in filing an application
If the grandparent had previously cared for the child on a full-time basis, the parent will have to show that grandparent visitation is NOT in the child’s best interest.
We will help you understand what to expect in the legal process and whether you have a strong case.
When a stepparent wants to establish legal rights to his or her spouse’s child, the estranged biological parent’s rights must be terminated. We can create a voluntary relinquishment of parental rights for that parent to sign. If the estranged biological parent will not sign the agreement, we may be able to file a suit for termination of his or her parental rights. Each case is unique, so you should discuss yours with an attorney to learn how the law will apply.
Contact Shimalla, Wechsler, Lepp & D’Onofrio, LLP
To schedule an appointment, please call 908-753-3833 or contact us online. Our family law attorneys represent clients across Somerset, Hunterdon, Warren, Middlesex, Union, Morris, Monmouth, Mercer, and Essex counties, and beyond.