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Michigan Family Law Blog

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Five Common Myths About Grandparent's Rights in Michigan

It can be heartbreaking for a grandparent to lose access to his or her grandchild. Most grandchildren benefit from a close and healthy relationship with their grandparents. However, divorce, misunderstandings, or the death of a parent can often put grandparents in a situation where they must fight for their right to see their grandchild. A Michigan grandparents rights lawyer represents grandparents who are seeking visitation rights with their grandchildren.
Before contacting an attorney, let’s take a look at five things about grandparenting time that you should understand before petitioning for visitation rights.

Five Myths About Michigan Grandparenting Time

  1. Grandparents are never allowed visitation rights in Michigan.
    This is simply not true. Michigan changed the laws governing visitation with grandparents in 2005 after the old laws were challenged as unconstitutional. Grandparents can petition the court and be granted grandparenting time in Michigan.

  2. Grandparents cannot receive visitation rights if the parents were never married.
    Yes, grandparents can receive visitation rights even if the child’s parents were never married or the marriage was annulled by the court.  However, the grandparents may have to petition for a paternity test to prove paternity and the father must have been regularly involved in the child’s life. In addition, grandparents may be granted visitation rights during a divorce or separation.

  3. Grandparents never receive visitation rights if another person adopts the child.
    It is true that in cases where a third party adopts a child, natural grandparents of the child usually cannot receive visitation rights without the consent of the adoptive parents. However, in cases in which the adoptive parent is a step-parent and the grandparent’s child was the other parent, the grandparents may receive visitation rights with the child. In some cases, the grandparent could secure visitation rights even if their child has died and the child is with the step-parent.

  4. It is easy to prove grandparents have the right to see a grandchild.
    This may be true in some cases; however, proving that a child will suffer emotional, mental, or physical harm if he or she is denied access to a grandparent can be a difficult burden of proof to overcome. If the parents are fit parents and they object to visitation, it becomes the burden of the grandparents to prove to the court why the court should ignore the parents’ choice.

  5. Past drug or alcohol abuse should not be a problem.
    If there is a history of drug or alcohol abuse by either grandparent, the court may take this issue into consideration. When parents are objecting to visitation with grandparents, they often bring up every past problem the grandparents may have had that could cast the grandparents in a poor light for contact with the child. You need to discuss any past dependency issues or criminal convictions with your Michigan family law attorney so that the attorney can be prepared to argue why these past issues are not a barrier to your relationship with your grandchild.

How Much Time Can Grandparents Receive with Their Grandchildren?

If the court grants visitation to the grandparents, the court must then decide the extent of the visitation. Will visitation be limited to daytime hours or weekend hours? Can the grandparents take the children on day trips? How much time should the grandparents have with the child?

The court will consider a variety of factors in determining the extent of grandparents’ visitation. The physical, mental, and emotional conditions of the grandparents are factors as is the emotional, physical, and mental conditions of the child. The court will review any allegations of prior child abuse. In addition, the court considers the prior relationship and bond between the grandparents and the grandchild as well as the grandparents and the parents.

Contact a Michigan Family Law Attorney for More Information

Working with an experienced Michigan family law attorney can give you an advantage when you are petitioning for grandparenting time. An attorney who handles these matters understands what judges are considering when determining the best interest of the child. Experienced grandparents rights lawyer Cameron C. Goulding can help. Schedule a consultation today to explore your rights.


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