When a spouse makes the difficult decision to pursue a divorce, things can rapidly become rather tumultuous for not just the other spouse and any children the couple may have, but friends and extended family.
Indeed, things can become especially confusing to grandparents who suddenly find themselves thrust into the unenviable position of having to console their child and wonder what affect the impending split will have on their ability to see their grandchildren.
In today’s post, we’ll conclude our series of posts examining what the law here in Georgia has to say regarding grandparent visitation rights.
What must a grandparent prove in order to prevail in their visitation case?
Regardless of whether the grandparent filed an original action with the superior court or intervened in an ongoing case, they will need to demonstrate by a showing of clear and convincing evidence that:
- Grandparent visitation is in the best interests of the child, and
- The child’s welfare or health would suffer harm if they were not allowed to visit their grandparents
We know what best interests entails, but what about harm to the child’s welfare or health?
While the superior court has to carefully consider all of the evidence before it, it may rule that the child’s welfare or health would likely suffer harm if it discovers that prior to the court action:
- The grandchild resided with the grandparents for at least six months
- The grandchild and grandparents had a regular pattern of visitation
- The grandparent covered the grandchild’s basic living expenses for at least one year or
- There are other compelling circumstances present
It should be noted that while the superior court is permitted to presume that emotional harm would result from denying a grandparent visitation to the child, this is a rebuttable presumption.
What happens when there is no divorce, meaning the child’s parent has been incarcerated, incapacitated or passed away?
In these scenarios, Georgia law dictates that a grandparent need only show that visitation would be in the best interests of the child.
Those with any sort of questions or concerns about child custody or visitation should give serious consideration to meeting with a skilled legal professional who can take the time to explain the law, answer their questions and fight to enforce their rights in court.