Our Georgia law firm is a boutique law practice focused on helping healthcare providers, professionals, businesspersons, and their family members protect their interests and peace-of-mind, including the safety of their children, their financial assets, and their family's general well-being.Grandparent's Rights to Visitation with their Grandchildren
In Georgia, grandparents have the right to petition a Georgia Court to obtain direct visitation rights to their grandchildren, but do not have a guaranteed “automatic” right to such an award. A grandparent may obtain visitation rights to their grandchild regardless of whether the grandchild's parent(s) have died, are incapacitated, are incarcerated, or have had their parental rights terminated. To obtain an award of visitation rights to a grandchild, a grandparent must demonstrate to the court that: (a) the health or welfare of the child would be harmed unless such grandparent visitation is granted; and (b) that the best interests of the child would be served by such grandparent visitation. In determining what is in the “best interests” of the child, the Court will consider the same Child Custody Factors as in a standard child custody action. In determining whether the health or welfare of the child would be harmed without visitation, the Court will consider, among other factors, whether: (i) the grandchild previously lived with the grandparent(s); (ii) the grandparent has previously provided financial support for the grandchild; and (iii) there was a previously-established pattern of regular visitation with (or childcare provided by) the grandparent. If a grandparent is awarded visitation rights, they are guaranteed to receive a minimum order of no less than twenty-four (24) hours of visitation with the child per month. As well, whether or not visitation rights are awarded to a grandparent, the Court may require that the grandchild's parents notify the grandparent(s) of any public performances of the grandchild, such as graduations, recitals, sporting events, or other extracurricular activities open to the public, so that the grandparents may attend the same.The Process of Seeking an Award of Grandparent's Rights
There are two ways for a grandparent to ask the court for visitation with the grandchild: (1) file an original action for visitation rights to the grandchild (the parents of the child must be separated/divorced to pursue this course); or (2) intervene in a divorce, adoption, or termination of parental rights action currently pending in Georgia. To initiate an “original action”, the grandparent will need to file a Petition for Grandparent's Rights with the Superior Court of the county of residence of the grandchild's current legal custodian (i.e. the parent or third party who has the majority of custody/visitation time with the minor child). To intervene in a pending divorce, adoption, or termination action, the Grandparent will have to seek the Court's approval by filing a Motion to Intervene in the pending action. Once the action has been initiated (or the Court has approved the grandparent's request to intervene), the burden will be on the grandparent(s) to demonstrate that visitation with said grandparent is in the grandchild's best interests and that the minor child's health or welfare will suffer without grandparent visitation. If the Court finds that the grandparent(s) seeking visitation rights can, without unreasonable financial hardship, bear the costs associated with appointing a guardian ad litem, the Court may appoint a guardian ad litem to determine whether a grandparent should be awarded visitation rights to the grandchild and may do so at the sole expense of the grandparent(s) seeking visitation rights. A grandparent may file an original action for visitation rights no more than once during any two (2) year period, and may not file such an action in the same year in which any other custody action has been filed concerning the child (i.e., the grandparent must intervene in that action, rather than filing their own original action). After visitation rights have been granted to any grandparent, the legal custodian, guardian, or other parent of the child may petition the court for revocation or amendment of such grandparent's visitation rights upon a showing of good cause, although such an action to revoke or amend grandparent's rights may only be filed once in any two (2) year period.Speaking with an Attorney regarding Grandparent's Rights
Hiring an attorney that is well-versed in family law and your rights as a grandparent is critical to obtaining a favorable and workable visitation arrangement. While many individuals believe they can adequately represent themselves in such an action, there is simply too great a chance for error or misstep without a professional at your side. An experienced family law attorney can help you not only prepare your case to present to the Court, but can also help you negotiate with the child's parents/guardians in an attempt to resolve your dispute without the need for formal litigation. Either way, your grandchild's best interests will be best served by spending a few hundred or thousand dollars to speak with an experienced and dedicated family law attorney, who will help you develop a litigation/negotiation strategy, marshal your facts and evidence, and effectively and efficiently negotiate and/or litigate your position so as to obtain workable and enjoyable visitation rights to your grandchild.Atlanta and Augusta Family Law Firm for Healthcare Providers and their Family Members
Hamil Little’s attorneys have extensive experience in family law and domestic relations actions in Georgia's courts and otherwise guiding and assisting healthcare providers, professionals, businesspersons, and/or their family members in avoiding legal pitfalls associated with their personal lives, relationships, and family. Our law firm has offices in Atlanta and Augusta, Georgia. Contact us at (404) 685-1662 (Atlanta) or (706) 722-7886 (Augusta) to schedule a confidential consultation.