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Michigan Family Law Blog

Thursday, March 16, 2017

FAQ About Gaining Visitation Rights as a Grandparent

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


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