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.

Subscribe to Our Blog

SHARE THIS POST:

Related Posts

Blog
Equitable Distribution of Negative Equity

  The factors that must be considered by the court for purposes of determining equitable distribution of assets and debts acquired during marriage are identified in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23.1. Items included for purposes of equitable distribution are: marital properties vehicles bank accounts stock options retirement accounts mortgages credit card debts automobile loans any other assets and…

Read More
Blog
Extreme Higher Earning Parent – No Increase in Support

  Child Support with an Extreme Higher Earning Parent – In a recent New Jersey appellate division case of Ianniello v. Pizzo, the appellate division upheld the trial court’s denial of the custodial parent’s request to increase child support.  The non-custodial parent was paying $10,000 per month.  The custodial parent sought a $65,000 per month…

Read More
Blog
A Final Restraining Order Does Not Have to be Forever

  In a recent post, I wrote about the best ways to defend against a Final Restraining Order (FRO). However, unfortunately, it is not always possible to successfully defend against the entry of an FRO.  Therefore, defendants need to know the serious consequences associated with an FRO.  They also need to understand that “final” does…

Read More
Blog
Restraining Order Violations are Serious Crimes

  A restraining order is a powerful tool to protect victims of domestic violence.  The purpose of a restraining order is to avoid future communication or contact between two people.  This holds true for as long as the order remains active. A person who makes contact will be held in contempt of the restraining order. …

Read More
Blog
Domestic Violence – Defending Final Restraining Orders

  Domestic violence is a pervasive problem throughout the United States. The State of New Jersey is no exception to this ongoing dilemma. Accordingly, the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (“the Act”) has been enacted and is intended to act as a shield for domestic violence victims. Unfortunately, there are times where matrimonial litigants instead…

Read More
Blog
A Penalty Provision in the Marital Settlement Agreement

  In New Jersey divorces, marital settlement agreements include language that addresses the ramifications if either person breaches any provision of the agreement.  Often, the agreement includes a penalty provision that requires breaching party to pay the other’s counsel fees if the matter requires court intervention.  More often than not, courts have largely ignored such…

Read More
Call Now ButtonCall Us