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The relationship between a grandparent and grandchild is one to be cherished. Spending time together is often a source of happiness for both of them. Unfortunately, divorce and other family conflicts can sever that relationship, causing grief for everyone involved.

A dedicated Cumming grandparents’ rights lawyer understands the vital role a grandparent plays in their grandchild’s life. Our firm’s caring child custody attorneys help grandparents in Cumming and the surrounding areas gain the time they need to love, protect, and care for their grandchildren.

Legal Restrictions on Visitation Rights for Grandparents

While state law recognizes that children can benefit from a relationship with their grandparents, that acknowledgment is not without limits. Under Official Code of Georgia Annotated §19-7-3, if a grandchild lives with both parents, the grandparents have no legal right to visitation. Otherwise, if either of a grandchild’s parents has died or had their parental rights terminated, their grandparents have legal standing to file for visitation.

Grandparents can also file for court-ordered time with their grandchild if the parents are separated or divorced. To successfully gain visitation, grandparents must demonstrate that visitation is in their grandchild’s best interests.

Georgia further restricts grandparent contact by allowing a child’s parent or legal guardian to petition the court to revoke the grandparent’s visitation rights for “good cause shown.” However, parents may only seek to stop the visits once every two years. Grandparents fearing a loss of contact with their grandchildren are well-advised to consult a practiced attorney in the Cumming area.

Cumming Grandparents May Seek Custody of their Grandchildren

Unlike in visitation cases, there is no legal presumption that a child will be harmed if a judge does not grant custody to the grandparents. As such, grandparents have the burden of proving that the child would suffer physical or emotional harm if the parents maintain custody. This is a significantly higher burden of proof than what is generally required in visitation cases.

If grandparents can prove that substantial harm would befall the grandchild if their parents retain custody, they must then demonstrate that it is in their grandchild’s best interests to be in their care. Examples of circumstances that may support a finding of ‘substantial harm’ include parents who:

  • Have physically, sexually, or emotionally abused or neglected the child;
  • Have untreated mental health conditions;
  • Are serving lengthy prison sentences;
  • Abuse drugs or alcohol and refuse to seek treatment; and
  • Expose their child to dangerous criminal activity.

It is indisputably challenging for grandparents to gain custody, but in extreme circumstances, it is possible. To warrant a grandparent becoming their grandchild’s primary caretaker, the situation must be severe. Accordingly, it is imperative that a grandparent work with a knowledgeable lawyer.

Do Children Have a Voice in Grandparent Custody and Visitation Disputes?

In grandparent custody and visitation disputes, the child often wants to maintain contact with a loving grandparent. The child may have little or no idea why they are being cut off from a grandparent they have known and loved throughout their life.

While state law does mandate that judges make the final decision in contested custody and visitation cases, a child can express a preference, and the court must consider it. Additionally, if a judge finds that the grandparents can afford it, they can appoint an attorney to represent the grandchild, known as a guardian ad litem, to advise the court on the child’s wishes. A qualified attorney who practices in Cumming can explain the role of the guardian ad litem in a legal matter involving grandparents’ rights.

Get Help from a Compassionate Cumming Grandparents’ Rights Attorney

Children gain many benefits from a relationship with their grandparents, including unconditional love and support. Grandparents also get to experience the joy of the relationship without assuming full parenting responsibilities.

Unfortunately, sometimes family disputes arise that jeopardize the grandparent-grandchild bond. If that occurs, a seasoned Cumming grandparents’ rights lawyer can help. Our skilled legal team can represent grandparents in visitation and child custody proceedings, ensuring that they remain an active part of their grandchildren’s lives.

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