Grandparent Visitation Rights in the State of Georgia
There is a special bond between most grandparents and their grandchildren; but in addition to the emotional bond, do grandparents have an actual legal right to visit a grandchild?
In Georgia grandparents who have been denied visitation by the child’s parent or parents can seek visitation through the court system.
Grandparent custody and grandparent visitation are two very different matters. Obviously, grandparent custody means that the grandparent now has custody of the child and the parent will owe the grandparent(s) child support. In this discussion, however, we will look solely at Grandparent Visitation Rights in Georgia.
(Note: To read the discussion of Grandparent Custody, please refer to Grandparent Custody Rights in the State of Georgia under that title in another legal guide on this site).
Georgia O.C.G.A. § 19-9-3(d) is the specific Georgia statute on grandparent visitation and it expressly encourages grandparent visitation. The statute reads,
It is express policy of this state to encourage that a child have continuing contact with parents and grandparents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child and to encourage parents to share in the right and responsibility of raising their child after such parents separated or dissolved their marriage or relationship.
As compared to grandparent custody, the statute on grandparent(s) visitation is a separate statue and not subject to constitutional challenge because it does not take custody away from a parent.
Grandparent visitation in a court setting would mean a court order that gives the grandparent specific visitation times with the grandchild, such as one weekend per month, some holidays, and vacation time visitation.
Sometimes parents are able to recognize the need for the child to maintain a relationship with his or her grandparents, whether paternal or maternal relatives; but when communication breaks down during the divorce process or afterward, a grandparent may need to ask for visitation through a court of law.
The benefit of having a court order in place is that if visitation is then denied, the grandparent has legal standing to file a Contempt Motion with the court who granted visitation. Without the legal document, it is a sad reality that visitation can be withheld on the whim of the parent, regardless of whether that parent has the child’s best interest in mind and heart.
The State of Georgia recognizes that grandparents are an important part of their grandchildren’s lives and by statute gives them the right to seek visitation. When parents deny grandparents the right to visitation, pursuing visitation through the courts is an option.
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