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What do grandparents in Georgia have to show to get visitation?

A previous post here discussed the fact that grandparents in Georgia may file a legal action for visitation with their grandchildren, but that they do not have an automatic right to it. At that time, we touched on the basic requirements needed for grandparents to file a petition. This week, we'll take a brief look at what such a petition will have to show in order to be successful.

According to Georgia Legal Aid, in order for a court to grant them visitation, grandparents in the state need to be able to prove two things. The first is that the child's health or welfare would be harmed by not allowing the visitation, and the second is that the visitation is in the child's best interests. While these two stipulations may seem similar, there are some subtle differences between the two. For example, the first prong of this test is a harder standard to meet than the general "best interests" test.

How would a grandparent get a court to rule that a child's health or welfare would be harmed? A Georgia court has to consider potential harm in a few situations. First would be that the grandparents were the physical custodians of the child for six or more months; that is, that the child lived with them. Second, if the grandparents financially supported the child's basic needs for a year or more, or if there was a regular pattern of visitation between the grandparents and the child. Finally, any other evidence that would tend to show that the child would be harmed by not being allowed to see the grandparents will be taken into consideration by a court.

The court may presume visitation would not be harmful to a child, but the parents of a child may rebut this presumption on a case by case basis. Whether or not a grandparent can meet this standard is a question of both law and fact. Those wishing to file such a petition may need to get more information about child custody and visitation issues.

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