Grandparent's Visitation Rights in Georgia
Importance of Grandparents in a child's lifeThe Georgia legislature recognizes that grandparents are important in a child's life, and there is a statutory provision that authorizes a petition to be filed by grandparents to obtain a court order for visitation.
Grandparent's rights limited by parents in an intact familyDue to a constitutional requirement to recognize parental authority, grandparents cannot petition the court for visitation if their grandchild(ren) are living in an intact family with both legal parents. This prohibition has recently been extended by an appellate court to intact family involving adopted parents, and not just biological parents.
The right to petition, however, is preserved for grandparents of children who do not live with both parents.
If you qualify, how is the right of visitation determined?Up until now, it has been the Judge's arbitrary decision to determine whether it would be "harmful" to the child to not see a grandparent, and also that it would be in the child's "best interest" to do so.
The Georgia Legislature has made changes to provide for specific facts to be considered by the Judge, and it also changes the presumption in favor of visitation if those or similar facts are shown. This new law became effective upon the Governor's signature on May 1, 2012..
When do you seek Grandparent Visitation?Based upon the existing law, there is a need to establish grandparent visitation rights as soon as the child's parents separate, while you still have a relationship with the grandchild. If your child is not the custodial parent, it is even more important to act quickly.
The evidence necessary to prevail has changed, and the presumption will be in your favor under this new law.