When your child is divorcing, you want to do whatever you can to help him or her through this difficult time. You may also have many questions, including questions about your grandchildren. Will they be all right? Where will they live? Most importantly, will you ever get to see them again?
The answers to those questions are, for the most part, up to your grandchildren’s parents. If you hope to maintain a close connection to your grandchildren, take care to keep your relationship with both parents friendly. Avoid getting involved in arguments or messy details. Try to be a calm harbor for your grandchildren amidst the tumultuous seas of divorce.
Grandparent visitation is largely up to the children’s parents
According to the U.S. Supreme Court, a parent has a constitutional right to make choices about the care and custody of his or her children. New Jersey courts respect that right and presume that parents’ decisions are in their children’s best interest. Judges only override parental decisions in extreme situations.
Grandparent visitation must be in the children’s best interests
A voluntary visitation arrangement is the easiest for everyone involved. If your grandchildren’s parents object to visitation, their decision will stand unless you prove that the children would suffer harm without the visitation. New Jersey law requires you to be specific about the alleged harm: “They might miss grandma and grandpa” is not enough. For a court to award grandparent visitation, you must also show that visitation would be in the children’s best interest.
If your grandchildren are not at risk of genuine harm, aim for mutually agreeable visits. Forcing visitation is likely to damage your relationship rather than improving it.