According to a 2012 study published by the Journal of Family Issues, grandparents play an ever-increasing role in the lives of young grandchildren in the United States. The study pointed to factors like increasing lifespans , changing family dynamics and increased financial security among older Americans as underlying reasons for the growth in intergenerational bonds – along with geographic proximity and frequent interaction.
When it comes to interaction with grandchildren, some families have experienced great strains –
particularly if parents are reluctant to allow frequent contact due to extensive interpersonal issues between the parents and in-laws/grandparents. The following answers a few general questions about grandparent visitation in Michigan, and please be sure to follow up with an experienced Michigan family law attorney today!
FAQ #1: Can any grandparent petition for visitation at any time?
Not necessarily. Under Section 722.22b of the Michigan Child Custody Act, one of the following scenarios must be in play before a grandparent can petition for what's known as “grandparenting time:”
- The child's parents have a pending divorce petition
- The child's parent are divorced
- The child's parent, who is the child of the grandparent seeking visitation, has passed away
- The child's parents were never married, do not reside in the same household, and paternity has been legally established
- The individual(s) with legal custody of the child are not the child's parent(s), or the child has been placed in a home other than that of the parents
- The grandparent seeking visitation provided a custodial environment for the child in the year preceding the petition for visitation
FAQ #2: Can the parents oppose a motion for grandparenting time?
Yes. If the parents oppose the motion – also known as “contesting” – the court will hold a hearing on the matter to determine an appropriate outcome. Under the law, a fit parent has the right to deny grandparenting time as a proper exercise of constitutional parental rights. However, a grandparent may still overcome this presumption by showing that denying the grandparent access to the child will create a “substantial risk of harm to the child's mental, physical, or emotional health.” If the grandparent cannot overcome this presumption, the petition will be dismissed.
FAQ #3: I know my son is the father of my grandchild, however the parents are not married. Can I still petition for visitation?
The parent of a father may not file for grandparenting time without a legal acknowledgement of paternity. This is achieved by the father either executing a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity or through a paternity order by a court of competent jurisdiction.
Contact an experienced visitation attorney today!
If you are a grandparent and would like to discuss your rights to visitation with a grandchild, please contact our office today: 248.608.4123