Grandparents do not have an automatic right to visitation under Georgia law, but they do have the right to ask for visitation rights in certain situations. Under O.C.G.A. §19-7-3, a grandparent can file a petition with the court in order to specifically request visitation with their grandchildren, or join in an existing case for custody or visitation that concerns their grandchildren.
There are some restrictions on when grandparents can file an independent petition for visitation with their grandchildren. These restrictions are as follows:
- There can be no other cases pending before the court that involve custody or visitation with the children.
- The legal parents of the child must be separated or divorced.
- Grandparents cannot file a petition more than once every two years, or during any year that another custody action has been filed that involves the child.
In order to gain visitation with a grandchild, the grandparent must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the child’s health or welfare could be harmed if the child could not visit the grandparent, and that visitation is in the child’s best interests. For instance, if the child previously lived with the grandparent for at least six months, there was a pattern of regular visitation between the grandparent and the child, or the grandparent provided regular financial support for the child for at least one year, there may be evidence that the child’s welfare would be harmed if visitation was not allowed to occur.
On the other hand, if a parent dies, is incapacitated, or incarcerated, the grandparent only has to prove that it is in the best interest of the child to have visitation with him or her. In this situation, the grandparent is not required to show that the child would be harmed if the visitation did not occur.
A Georgia visitation attorney at Shaw Law Firm LLC can help advise you about the potential consequences of a proposed move, whether you are a custodial or a non-custodial parent. Contact us or call today to learn how Shaw Law can work with you to achieve the best outcome possible for you and your children.
Scott Shaw is founder and principle of Shaw Law Firm LLC, founded in 1995 and dedicated solely to divorce, family law and child custody matters that must be addressed and decided in the state of Georgia. Shaw Law Firm serves the greater Metro Atlanta area, particularly the counties of Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, Cherokee, Forsyth, Paulding, Henry, Fayette, Coweta, Newton, Walton, Bartow and Douglas. Schedule a consultation today at 770-594-8309.