The inherent ability of Grandparents to have the right to visit their grand children after a divorce proceeding is a very complex legal issue. The Michigan Child Custody Act of 1970 originally had no mention of a Grandparent Visitation clause, or even thought of including one. In 1971, almost a year after the MCCA was ratified, a Grandparent Visitation statute was enacted. This statute was very limited in its original form, providing for visitation from a grandparent only if the grandchild’s parent was the Grandparent’s child and the parent of the grandchild was now deceased.
Grandparent Visitation Today
Since 2003 Grandparents are no longer afforded grandparenting time simply because the court feels it is in the best interests of the child. Today a Grandparent must meet certain criteria before they are even allowed to petition a Court for visitation with their grandchild(ren).
According to MCL 722.27b a grandparent may request visitation under the following circumstances:
(a) An action for divorce, separate maintenance, or annulment involving the child’s parents is pending before the court.
(b) The child’s parents are divorced, separated under a judgment of separate maintenance, or have had their marriage annulled.
(c) The child’s parent who is a child of the grandparents is deceased.
(d) The child’s parents have never been married, they are not residing in the same household, and paternity has been established by the completion of an acknowledgment of parentage under the acknowledgment of parentage act, 1996 PA 305, MCL 722.1001 to 722.1013, by an order of filiation entered under the paternity act, 1956 PA 205, MCL 722.711 to 722.730, or by a determination by a court of competent jurisdiction that the individual is the father of the child.
(e) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (13), legal custody of the child has been given to a person other than the child’s parent, or the child is placed outside of and does not reside in the home of a parent.
(f) In the year preceding the commencement of an action under subsection (3) for grandparenting time, the grandparent provided an established custodial environment for the child as described in section 7, whether or not the grandparent had custody under a court order.
It is only under these circumstances that a Grandparent is allowed to petition the court for visitation. Nevertheless, simply meeting one or more of the requirements does not guarantee that a they will be granted visitation. There is a presumption that a fit parent’s decision to deny visitation does not substantially risk harm to the mental, physical or emotional well being of a child. As a result, it is up to the Grandparents to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that denial of visitation will create a substantial risk of harm to the mental, physical or emotional well being of a child. If a grandparent meets the burden of proof, there is yet one more hurdle before visitation can be granted. The court must also find that it is in the best interests of the child to enter an order for grandparenting time. In making a determination of the “best interests” of a child the court will consider the following factors pursuant to MCL 722.27b(6):
(a) The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the grandparent and the child.
(b) The length and quality of the prior relationship between the child and the grandparent, the role performed by the grandparent, and the existing emotional ties of the child to the grandparent.
(c) The grandparent’s moral fitness.
(d) The grandparent’s mental and physical health.
(e) The child’s reasonable preference, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express a preference.
(f) The effect on the child of hostility between the grandparent and the parent of the child.
(g) The willingness of the grandparent, except in the case of abuse or neglect, to encourage a close relationship between the child and the parent or parents of the child.
(h) Any history of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse or neglect of any child by the grandparent.
(i) Whether the parent’s decision to deny, or lack of an offer of, grandparenting time is related to the child’s well-being or is for some other unrelated reason.
(j) Any other factor relevant to the physical and psychological well-being of the child.
In many circumstances Grandparents are an essential part of the life of a child. Obtaining Grandparent visitation is a complicated process and it is extremely important that you contact a knowledgeable and aggressive attorney to assist you.
Selecting the Best Representation
As you can tell, Grandparent Visitation is a highly complex area of the law. Our aggressive legal team has been fighting for your rights for well over 15 years, and has been successful in arranging grandparent visitation with many courts in the state. When selecting your attorney for this cause of action, you must be sure they are familiar with the current evolution of the law, and are up-to-date on any and all legal findings that can impact your case. Plainly put, we are that legal firm, and we look forward to speaking with you for your FREE initial consultation today!