Grandparents’ parenting time rights in New Jersey

Photo of attorney Melinda L. Singer

There are many reasons why grandparents may want to petition the court for parenting time of their grandchildren. Often divorce, separation, and the death of a parent leave grandparents out in the cold. When grandparents want to be a consistent part of their grandchildren’s lives, there usually isn’t any reason that they shouldn’t be allowed reasonable parenting time. To accomplish that, sometimes a court order is necessary for New Jersey.

In New Jersey, a legal right to request reasonable parenting time is granted to grandparents. It is called “grandparenting time.”

What does the court look for in a grandparent’s request?

Judges will consider relevant evidence that demonstrates that the grandchildren will be negatively impacted without court-ordered parenting time with grandparents. This can include a negative psychological effect as a result of the loss of the grandparent-grandchild relationship.

Grandparents must demonstrate that spending quality time together will have a positive impact on the grandchildren. This can be accomplished by documenting the longevity of the relationship, the strength of their bond and the desire of the grandchildren themselves to be in contact with the grandparents.

What happens if the grandchild is adopted by someone else?

Parental rights are transferred to the adoptive parents. However, New Jersey courts will consider the petition of biological grandparents for parenting time based upon the criteria above.

Can I adopt my grandchildren?

Yes. The court will accept requests for adoption if the children are currently in an unsafe, negligent or abusive household. Once the court decides that the current guardians are unfit, the grandparents must prove that the grandchild’s best interest would be served by being adopted by the grandparents.

Grandparents may be made to feel as if they have no rights when divorce, separation, or death occurs. However, in New Jersey, grandparents have more than one recourse to request a court-ordered parenting time or adoption. Everything depends on the current situation that the grandchildren find themselves in, and the status of the grandparents. Legal counsel that is well versed in family law is best equipped to help grandparents to navigate the court system to ensure that their parenting time rights are protected.

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