Every state across the country, including New Jersey, has enacted a law granting grandparents visitation rights under certain circumstances. These laws can extend to other non-parents, including the parents’ siblings, giving them the ability to visit with a child even if a parent has tried to prevent it.
According to New Jersey law, anyone who has a legitimate interest in a child is allowed to apply for visitation rights. In deciding whether or not to grant those rights, a court will take into account the following:
- What relationship the person applying has with the child as well as the relationship between the applicant and the child’s parents
- How much time has passed since the last contact between the applicant and the child
- The reason for a lapse in time since the last contact
- How granting visitation rights would affect the relationship the child has with his or her parents
- Any agreement the child’s separated or divo rced parents have in place, such as a child custody agreement
A court can also consider any other item that would be applicable when looking at the child’s best interests. For example, the court will assess the applicant’s good faith as well as any history the applicant has regarding abuse.
An article from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers points out that the best interest of the child will be the priority in every case. Therefore, if a court determines that granting a grandparent visitation rights would in some way harm the child, it is likely that the request would be denied.
It is important to point out that invoking the right to visitation may be required when a family is no longer intact. For example, if one parent passes away, his or her parents may have to go through court in order to secure the right to visit with grandchildren.