When parents and grandparents disagree about visitation with a child, the situation can be painful for all parties involved, especially the child. Michigan has specific laws related to the visitation rights of grandparents. Before proceeding with legal action to obtain visitation with your grandchild, it can help to learn more about your legal rights from an experienced Michigan grandparent's rights lawyer.
Four Important Things to Understand About Grandparent Visitation Rights in Michigan
1. Grandparent Visitation Bill
The Michigan Grandparent Visitation Bill was signed into law on January 3, 2005. The law gives grandparents the right to petition the court for visitation with their grandchildren under certain circumstances.
2. When Do Grandparents Have the Right to Seek Visitation?
Grandparents do not always have the right to visitation with their grandchildren. The law specifies the circumstances under which grandparents may be entitled to visitation with their grandchildren. Circumstances that might give rise to a grandparent visitation order include:
The grandparent has been the child's caregiver within the previous year, with or without a court order directing the grandparent to provide care for the child.
The child's parents do not live together, and the child was born out of wedlock. The person claiming to be the father must have been declared as the legal father, and he must be paying child support.
The parents of the child intend to or have already separated, filed for divorce, or filed for an annulment of the marriage.
The child does not live with the parents, or someone other than the parents have legal custody of the child, except in cases in which a step-parent has adopted the child.
3. Grandparents Have the Right to File a Motion for Visitation
The court presumes that a parent's choice to deny visitation with a grandparent is valid and in the best interests of the child unless the grandparent can prove otherwise. The grandparent must file a motion with the court and prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the child will suffer harm if visitation with the grandparent is denied. The harm a child may suffer because of lack of visitation with the grandparent may be physical, mental, or emotional harm.
However, if both parents file an affidavit with the court stating that they want to deny visitation with the grandparent, the court will deny a hearing provided the court finds the parents to be fit parents.
4. There are Factors the Court Considers When Awarding Visitation
If the court grants visitation for the grandparents, certain factors are used when determining the type of visitation to award. Factors that influence grandparent visitation include:
The moral fitness of the grandparent;
The physical and mental health of the grandparent;
The child's reasonable preferences;
Emotional ties, affection, and love between the child and the grandparent;
Any history of abuse;
Any effect hostility between the parent and grandparent may have on the child;
The quality and length of the relationship between the grandparent and child, including the role of the grandparent in the child's life;
The willingness of the grandparent to foster a good relationship between the child and parent; and,
Other factors that the court might find relevant.
Contact Michigan family law attorney Cameron C. Goulding to determine if you have a valid legal claim for visitation with your grandchild.
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