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What rights in child custody to Georgia grandparents have?

In some past generations, when travel and communications were not as advanced as they are today, many families in Georgia may have lived within close proximity to several generations of their relatives. Parents, children and grandparents may have been in the same neighborhood, or even the same dwelling, and everyone may have had a hand in caring for the children. While this may not happen as often in the early 21st century U.S., many children still have relationships with their grandparents, and it can be hard on them when parent's divorce or otherwise split up. So, what rights to grandparents have in these cases?

First, as far as custody goes in Georgia, a grandparent is treated no differently than any other person who is not the child's legal parent. That is, he or she would have no specific right to custody. Grandparents may be able to request visitation with grandchildren from a court, but they do not have any fundamental right to it. To request such visitation, the grandparent would either intervene in an ongoing divorce or other family proceeding concerning the children, or file a separate "Petition for Visitation."

If the grandparent wants to file a separate petition there are some requirements that must be met. First, the parents of the child must be divorced or separated, and they must not reside together. Second, there can't be a pending case for custody or visitation regarding these children before a court, or have been one filed within the last year. Third, such a separate petition for visitation can be filed only in any two-year period, nor can a grandparent pursue such a petition if, within a year, a separate custody action involving the child has been brought before the court.

It is important to note that these are simply requirements for filing a separate grandparents' petition for visitation. We may explore what a grandparent would have to show to be awarded such visitation in a follow-up post. For now, people with questions about child custody matters may wish to consider consulting a Georgia family attorney.

Source:, "Grandparent Visitation," Lindsay C. Verity, Jan. 2014

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