Blog

Grandparent Visitation in New Jersey

Recently, a judge I appeared before summed up the status of grandparent visitation in New Jersey. He said if a grandparent wants visitation and the parent says “jump,” the grandparents’ response should be “how high?”

Sad, but true, this is the current sentiment of grandparent rights in New Jersey. A fit parent has a fundamental due process right to the care and nurturance of his or her child. The 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees this right.  Therefore, a fit parent’s ability to grant access to a child is given great weight and deference. However, in New Jersey there is a grandparent visitation statute and a body of case law.  These laws seeks to balance a parent’s discretion and the right of a grandparent to a relationship with a grandchild.

Grandparent Visitation

The 2003 New Jersey Supreme Court case, Moriarty v. Bradt, set the legal standard which a grandparent visitation application is measured. The burden of proof is on the grandparent.  The grandparent must show that by a preponderance of the evidence, visitation is necessary to avoid harm to the child. The grandparent can overcome the presumption in favor of a parent’s decision to disallow visitation if potential harm to the child can be demonstrated.  If a grandparent cannot overcome the avoidance of harm standard, the parent’s decision will be afforded deference.  Therefore, the grandparent will not have access to their grandchild.

Subsequent cases interpreting Moriarty have held that a grandparent must prove that by denying visitation, a particular, identifiable harm will come to the child. A simple, conclusory statement or allegation of harm is not enough. An example of a particular identifiable harm is if one of the parents has died and the grandparent is the only remaining tie to the deceased. A grandparent acting as a substitute parent for an extended period of time can also create a successful application. Additionally, grandparents have rights when the court finds both parents to be unfit.

My Process

When representing a grandparent, and a parent is denying access to a grandchild, I make every effort to repair the relationship. I do not threaten litigation until visitation has been denied with finality. I counsel the grandparent to make respectful and patient attempts with the parent to establish and agree upon a visitation schedule for the grandparent. Only when all else fails, do I resort to filing an application with the Court. However, based on the current status of the law, the outcome may not always go the grandparent’s way.

Please contact me at jlawrence@lawlawfirm.com if you have questions about this post or any other family law matter.

Back to Blog
SHARE THIS POST:

Related Posts

Blog
How to Talk to Your Partner About a Prenuptial Agreement

When polled, 62% of divorce lawyers said they have seen an increase in the number of their clients seeking a prenuptial agreement. However, going from interest to actually having a signed agreement requires a great deal of talking and negotiation. Here is how you should raise the topic of a prenuptial agreement with your partner….

Read More
Blog
What Happens When an Ex-Spouse Breaks the Marital Settlement Agreement?

In 2020, it was estimated that 39% of marriages ended in divorce. If you are someone who went through divorce, you may be struggling with a spouse who fails to abide by your marital settlement agreement. They may fail to make payments for alimony, for example, or they may fail to pay their part of…

Read More
Blog
How the Best Interests Test Works

The Best Interests of the Child Test in New Jersey The concept of best interests of the children actually comes from a United Nations Convention, and it’s applied in all states. Beyond that, many people don’t know what it means. Below is an explanation of the test and how it is used in New Jersey…

Read More
Blog
Are Divorces Actually Becoming More Civil Because of the Pandemic?

Is the Pandemic Changing the Way That People Divorce? Only about 2-3 % of divorce cases end up going to trial. However, even among the 92-98% that avoid a court hearing, there is often rancor and bitterness that plague the relationship between the spouses. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused at least some change that…

Read More
Blog
Main Dispute in a Divorce is Often Custody and Parenting Time
Custody and Parenting Time Often in a divorce, the main area in dispute is custody and parenting time of a child.  Litigants can spend months of their lives and thousands of dollars fighting over their child. There are two different types of custody - legal custody and residential custody.  With regard to legal custody, there... Read More
Blog
Steps to Take If Quarantining Is Straining Your Marriage

How to Make Sure Your Marriage Survives the COVID-19 Quarantine and the Need For a Divorce Attorney Marriage is rarely easy and requires spouses to work at it to ensure that the union thrives and survives. In the U.S., the average length of a marriage is approximately eight years, which means to remain together for…

Read More

Disclaimer and information can be found here, including links to descriptions and selection methodologies. No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.
Call Now ButtonCall Us