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Somerset County Third-Party Custody & Grandparents’ Rights Attorneys

Standing Up for Grandparents & Other Third Parties

With more parents working outside of the home, 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 Somerset County grandparents’ rights attorneys have the knowledge and experience necessary to help you understand your rights and continue to enjoy a relationship with the grandchildren in your life.

Let’s discuss your case during a confidential consultation. Give us a call at (908) 356-7634 now.

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, divorced parents or surviving parents have decided to prevent grandparents from seeing the children. In limited circumstances, the grandparents may seek visitation rights to maintain their relationship with their grandchildren.

Under New Jersey law, a grandparent may be able to secure visitation rights if he or she can prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that visitation is in the child’s best interests.

When determining these cases, the court will look at many factors, including:

  • The relationship between the child and grandparent
  • The relationship between the parent or the person with whom the child is living 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 or the person with whom the child is living and child
  • The existing time-sharing arrangement if parents are divorced or separated
  • Any history of physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect by the grandparent
  • 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. The focus is on the potential harm to the child and not the possible harm to the grandparent.

Our Somerset County grandparents’ rights lawyers can help you understand what to expect in the legal process and whether you have a strong case.

Stepparent Adoption

When a stepparent wants to establish legal rights to his or her spouse’s child, the estranged biological parent’s rights must be terminated and a formal adoption must occur. We can create a voluntary relinquishment of parental rights for that parent to sign provided that there is another adult willing to step into the shoes of the estranged parent. If the estranged biological parent will not sign the agreement, we may be able to file a suit for adoption. Each case is unique, so you should discuss yours with an attorney to learn how the law will apply in your situation.

To schedule an appointment, please call (908) 356-7634 or contact us online.

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    Our firm’s attorneys have over 110 years of combined legal experience.

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