The relationship between a grandparent and grandchild is one that the child will remember for the rest of his or her life. Grandparents are notoriously proud of their grandchildren, and spending time with them is a source of joy and happiness. Unfortunately, divorce can come between these precious relationships, causing grief for both grandparent and grandchild.
Contact Atlanta, Georgia, grandparents' rights lawyer Anthony M. Zezima online to schedule a consultation.
At Anthony M. Zezima, P.C., we understand the dilemmas that grandparents go through when their children divorce. Our attorney is committed to assisting grandparents in establishing their rights, including child custody, child visitation, guardianship, and more.
We frequently handle grandparents' rights cases involving:
Deceased parent of the grandchild
Divorce or separation of grandchild's parents
Grandchild living with grandparent(s)
He can also assist with modifications of previous visitation decrees.
The state of Georgia recognizes that the relationship with a grandparent is important to a child. The state gives grandparents the right to seek visitation when it is otherwise unavailable to them. This may occur when one parent is deceased or does not get visitation with the children.
Grandparents may file a separate action against the custodial parent to seek visitation rights with their grandchildren. However, the state legislature has rewritten the grandparent visitation statute to eliminate the right of a grandparent to intervene when the grandchild is living with both legal parents in an intact family.
A recent decision of the Georgia Supreme Court has ruled that an adoptive parent stands in the same position as any other legal parent in determining whether the child is in an intact family. This triggers the provision of the Grandparent visitation statute that prohibits grandparents from pursuing visitation over the objections of both parents in an intact family. This severely limits the rights of grandparents whose child has either died, or had parental rights terminated, and their grandchild is subsequently adopted by the spouse of the custodial parent. Those grandparents have no legal standing to pursue visitation.
The Governor of Georgia has signed a new law on May 1, 2012, which will strengthen the ability of grandparents to seek visitation with grandchildren. The new law allows judges to rule that the child's interests would be harmed without some "minimal" contact with their grandparents. Those visits would total at least 24 hours in a month.
The new law eliminates the prior language that stated that there is "no presumption" in favor of grandparent visitation, and adds the following language:
"In considering whether the health or welfare of the child would be harmed without such visitation, the court shall consider and may find that harm to the child is reasonably likely to result where, prior to the original action or intervention:
(A) The minor child resided with the grandparent for six months or more;
(B) The grandparent provided financial support for the basic needs of the child for at least one year;
(C) There was an established pattern of regular visitation or child care by the grandparent with the child;
(D) Any other circumstance exists indicating that emotional or physical harm would be reasonably likely to result if such visitation is not granted."
It further establishes a rebuttable presumption that a child who is denied any contact with his or her grandparent or who is not provided some minimal opportunity for contact with his or her grandparent may suffer emotional injury that is harmful to such a child's health.
The new law is effective immediately. It revises the Official Code of Georgia O.C.G.A. § 19-7-3.
Attorney Zezima has experience in family law since 1983, assisting grandparents in establishing their rights. To schedule a consultation, contact our Georgia child visitation attorney online or call us.