New Jersey Grandparents’ Rights Lawyer
Grandparent And Stepparent Custody
“Just as parents of divorcing spouses began suing to visit grandchildren about a decade ago, spawning grandparent visitation laws in nearly every state, stepparents are now asserting claims, both in and out of court,” wrote Georgia Dullea in the New York Times in 1987.
The phenomenon is noteworthy, legally speaking, because it puts in conflict a long-standing tradition of parental common-law rights and an evolving notion of family in the courts. Very often, a crisis in the family will precipitate a grandparent’s or stepparent’s request for visitation or custody over the objection of a custodial parent. However, as it currently exists, common law does not protect those relationships, as it does with the rights of a biological parent.
The Law Is Evolving
Grandparents’ rights are evolving in some states as more and more cases are brought before the courts. Nevertheless, the courts in New Jersey have made clear that grandparents still have a high threshold burden to overcome to infringe upon the decision-making authority of a fit parent when it comes to seeking visitation over the objection of a parent.
Moreover, grandparents generally cannot obtain custody of children in New Jersey unless the parental rights of the child’s natural parents have been terminated.
The rights of grandparents and stepparents who seek a legal avenue to maintain meaningful contact with children are limited but that is changing.
Grandparents’ Rights Attorney
Our lawyers help family members assess their rights to contact, over the objection of a custodial parent, to see whether discontinued contacts will harm the minor children. In appropriate cases, we also will help objecting parents or stepparents determine their rights to oppose unwanted contacts with family members, based on probable harm to minor children. In either case, we will assist families in preparing for negotiations, mediation, arbitration or a court hearing.
To speak with one of our central New Jersey attorneys for grandparents’ rights, please call 609-683-7400 or contact us online.