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Do Georgia grandparents have legal rights to see a grandchild?

When a couple with children decides to divorce, matters related to child custody and visitation must be addressed and settled. Frequently, child custody matters stir up strong emotions in both parents and, at times, such matters can become contentious. When parents are not able to work together to come to a resolution and sort out issues related to legal and physical custody as well as visitation, a family court must intervene.

Everyone loses when issues related to child custody become contentious. In addition to the stress and heartache experienced by both parents and, most importantly, a child; the rights of grandparents to see and spend time with a grandchild may also be disregarded. Georgia grandparents who are facing difficulties with regard to gaining access to a grandchild would be wise to consult with a family law attorney who can answer questions, discuss options and assist in any legal action.

In Georgia, grandparents have no explicit legal right to visitation with a grandchild. However, legal action may be taken to obtain permission to see a grandchild from a child’s parent or parents. A grandparent who takes legal action to obtain visitation rights may either file a Petition for Visitation or join an existing case related to the termination of one parent's parental rights, child custody or visitation.

Although there is no guarantee that either of these actions will be successful, in order to gain visitation rights a grandparent must be able to prove that such visitation is "in a child's best interests. Additionally, a grandparent must also prove that "a child's health or welfare would be harmed," if no visitation is granted.

The relationship between a grandchild and his or her grandparents is special and can be critical to a child's emotional and physical wellbeing and safety. No child should be deprived of his or her rights to have a loving and nurturing relationship with a grandparent. Atlanta area grandparents who are encountering difficulties in gaining access to a grandchild due to a separation or divorce would be wise to contact a family law attorney.

Source: Georgia Legal Aid, "Grandparent Visitation," 2014

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