Let’s face it.
Grandparent’s rights in Georgia are limited.
Meaning you may never see your grandkids.
In this article, we’re covering:
- why grandparent’s rights in Georgia are absolutely unfair
- how to go about getting grandparent’s rights
- what you need to know about filing for grandparent’s rights
- what can you do about grandparent alienation?
Let’s dig in.
Table of Contents
- How Screwed Up Are Grandparent Rights in Georgia?
- Is There Such Thing As Grandparents Rights That Are Guaranteed?
- What Are Grandparent Rights: Simple, Need to Know Rules
- Are There Grandparent’s Legal Right to Grandchildren?
- What Can You Do About Grandparental Alienation?
- The Best Chance You Have At Getting Visitation Rights
How Screwed Up Are Grandparent Rights in Georgia?
You’re wondering do grandparents have rights to grandchildren AT ALL?
Grandparents do not have the automatic legal right to see their grandchildren, unlike parents.
This can make grandparents nervous for several reasons.
And leave them asking several questions about grandparent’s right in Georgia:
- Will they still be able to see their grandbabies if their child isn’t the custodial parent?
- Will their child’s ex be able to block them from seeing the grandkids?
- What will happen to their relationship with their grandkids?
But do the Georgia custody laws give the grandparents rights to anything?
Georgia law gives the grandparents the right to ask for grandparents’ visitation rights.
[How To] Filing for Grandparents Visitation Rights
To file for visitation, the grandparents can file an original court action for visitation.
You will want to hire a family law attorney.
They will be able to file the court action for visitation for you.
And they will be able to present an argument for you to have grandparent visitation rights.
But there are some limitations to filing for visitation for grandparents.
Grandparents can only file for visitation every two years.
Also, they cannot file for visitation if the parents are still married.
They can only file for visitation is the parents have filed for a divorce in Georgia.
Here are some exceptions for grandparent visitation rights when the parents are married:
- the parents have gone through legal separation in Georgia
- at least one parent’s whereabouts are unknown
- the child does not live with either parent
- the child has been adopted by a stepparent
Related: Reasons a Judge Will Change Custody
Why Grandparent Rights in Georgia Are Absolutely Unfair
Another cause for concern is that a parents’ decision about grandparent visitation will be given deference.
This means that the court will likely respect whatever decision the parents make.
And if the parents are still together and the child is living with them, then the grandparents cannot ask for any kind of visitation.
In order for grandparents to get visitation, there must be:
- an ongoing divorce process in Georgia
- danger to the child’s health and wellbeing
It can sometimes seem like there are no grandparent rights in GA.
But that isn’t necessarily true.
Georgia law limits who can and can’t ask for custody of children.
Thankfully, grandparents are able to request visitation and custody.
However, the presumption is that kids are better off with their parents.
This presumption can be pretty difficult to rebut, but it’s not impossible!
Related: How To Get Emergency Custody Orders
Is There Such Thing As Grandparents Rights That Are Guaranteed?
In short, no there are no guarantees to grandparent rights in Georgia.
Grandparents have zero guaranteed rights, even if your child is the custodial parent.
Grandparents need a court order to have any grandparent rights to the grandchild.
Without one, a grandparent’s visitation rights are non-existent.
And if you have no rights, then your grandchildren’s parents can keep the kids away from you.
Yes, you read that right.
If you don’t have a court order allowing visitation, your grandchildren’s parents can keep them away from you.
This doesn’t mean that grandparents can’t visitation rights to their grandchildren.
As you can see, all you need is a court order allowing for visitation.
Although it sounds simple, it can be a difficult process.
And there are things you need to keep in mind.
Just because you’ve filed a petition for visitation doesn’t automatically grant visitation rights.
You still have to appear in court and explain why you deserve visitation.
And you know what the worst part is?
Sometimes grandparents will spend months and months fighting for visitation only to be denied.
Or maybe you’re granted visitation…
but it’s for one day a month!
There is nothing more frustrating than this.
Imagine fighting tooth and nail to see your grandchildren to only get visitation once a month.
It’s heartbreaking and unfair, to say the least.
What Are Grandparent Rights: Simple, Need to Know Rules
So we’ve already discussed that grandparents have zero rights unless there’s a court order in place.
But now let’s talk about how we get that court order.
First, there must already be a pending case before a grandparent can get visitation.
This basically means that the grandparents must intervene in a case instead of starting their own.
The type of case is usually one of the following:
- child custody case
- termination of parental rights
- visitation rights of the child
- adoption of the child
This is because the courts give a lot of deference to parents on how to raise their children.
Sometimes that means not allowing the children to see their grandparents.
Next, the court must decide whether to grant the grandparents visitation.
This sometimes shocks people.
But asking for visitation doesn’t guarantee you’ll get it.
The grandparents will have to show that the child’s health or welfare will suffer if they are denied visitation.
This is not an easy standard to prove.
In fact, grandparents have to show one of the following to receive visitation:
- the child lived with the grandparents for 6 months or longer
- the grandparent provided financial support for the child’s basic needs for at least a year
- there was an established pattern of regular visitation or child-care
- emotional or physical harm would result if visitation were denied
The courts can be reluctant to give grandparents visitation rights.
But that does not make it impossible.
The most important thing is to give concrete evidence that shows it’s in the best interest of the child for you to see them.
How to Go About Getting Grandparents Rights
When the courts are considering grandparents rights, the look at the best interests of the child.
The factors that courts take into account for grandparents rights are:
- the physical and emotional health of the child
- the safety and welfare of the child
- the capacity of the grandparents to take care of the child
- the parent’s and grandparents’ wishes
- the relationship between the grandparents and child
- evidence of abuse by the parents or grandparents
- evidence of neglect by the parents or grandparents
- evidence of substance abuse by the parents or grandparents
- the adjustment to the home, school, and community
Let’s assume that:
- the parents are abusing the child
- the parents are neglecting the child
- the parents have substance abuse issues
- the parents want to give you custody
If you believe that you are able to receive grandparents’ rights to the child, what’s next?
You will want to file for grandparents rights in Georgia.
Related: Grounds for Full Custody of Child
What You Need To Know About Filing for Grandparents Rights
Whether you believe you need custody or visitation, this is what you do.
- Hire a family law attorney. They will be able to dig into all of the details in the following steps.
- Find out if there is already a family court case open. If the children already have a family court case open, you can file a petition under that case.
- Fill out the court forms. Your family lawyer will provide you with and walk you through filling these out.
- Make copies of your forms. The courts will keep the original form. The grandparents and both parents need a copy as well.
- File your petition. Your family lawyer will file the petition for visitation with the local court clerk. They will provide you with a copy that’s stamped with, “Filed.”
- Serve the parents. Georgia laws require this. Once you have filed the petition, you must serve anyone who has custody of the child. This can be parents, step-parents, or anyone else. Your lawyer will be able to set up the service of process for you.
- File your proof of service. Once the parents have been served, you have to file a proof of service with the same court clerk.
- Attend your court hearing. Once your lawyer has filed the proof of service, they will schedule a court hearing for you. Note that the judge may make you attend mediation with the parents. If you all cannot come to an amicable agreement during mediation, the judge will make a decision. They will balance the child’s best interests with the right of parents to make decisions in their children’s lives.
Are There Grandparent’s Legal Right to Grandchildren?
The only legal rights grandparents have in regards to their grandchildren is the right to ask for visitation.
This is a right that not many people are given.
The right to ask for visitation is reserved to only:
- great grandparents
- aunts and uncles
However, this doesn’t mean that grandparents have the right to visitation.
It’s important to be mindful of this distinction.
Grandparents just have the legal right to ask the court for visitation.
But can a grandparent lose visitation rights after getting them?
Yes, your visitation rights can be revoked.
That is if the parent can show good cause for such a change.
This can sometimes be a difficult standard to prove.
But be mindful that courts tend to give the parent’s wishes a lot of weight.
Their request to modify or revoke a grandparent’s visitation won’t be taken lightly.
But parents don’t have the final say.
Your legal rights to visitation do not depend on what they think is in the best interest of the child.
That final decision making power rests with the judge.
The judge is the only one you have to convince that the kids are better off with their grandparents in their lives.
What Can You Do About Grandparental Alienation?
Grandparental alienation is very similar to parental alienation.
This is when either parent of your grandchildren manipulates your grandchildren into ending their relationship with you.
This might look different to every family, but some examples are:
- not allowing the grandchildren to spend time with you
- asking the grandchildren to pick between the parents and the grandparents
- telling the grandchildren about any disputes between the parents and grandparents
There isn’t a lot you can do to fight against grandparent alienation without visitation rights.
This is because parents have every right to raise their children as they see fit.
That means they have the full capability of alienating family members.
If you do have visitation rights, you should exercise your right to see your grandchildren.
This is true even if they say they don’t want to spend time with you.
The best way to repair their relationship is by spending as much time as possible with them.
Mending the relationship can be difficult, but if you give up isn’t an option.
If you were granted visitation, this means that the court obviously thought you were a necessary part of this child’s life.
Do not take that for granted.
The Best Chance You Have At Getting Visitation Rights
Fill out the form below for a free consultation with our family law attorneys.
Our family lawyers are experienced in getting grandparents rights in Georgia.
We can help you get grandparents’ rights, which means that:
- you don’t miss out on their most important years growing up
- you aren’t missing out on that special grandparent-grandchild bond
- you can spoil them like you deserve
- you can watch them grow up
Every grandparent deserves to be in their grandchildren’s lives.
You deserve that too.
Fill out the form below and get the ball rolling.