When a family goes through divorce separation or death, everyone is impacted. For grandparents, who once had regular contact with their grandchildren, these changes can mean no longer being able to spend time with them as before. However, there may be a legal remedy available to grandparents which can help visit their grandchildren.
Qualifying to Request Visits
Under Michigan law, grandparents can ask a family court to order “grandparenting time” when parents are going through or have completed a divorce, separation, or annulment of their marriage. This request is also available to grandparents when parents have not been married and are not living together, and the father’s paternity is established. If someone other than a parent has custody, the grandparents may also be able to ask to see the child. Additionally, the grandparent can ask for visits if the grandparent’s child has died or if the grandparent has been the custodial caregiver during the prior year.
Grandparenting Time Hearing
If the grandparent meets one of the enumerated conditions, they may ask for grandparenting time and request a formal hearing. Michigan law presumes that if the child’s parents are fit, their choice to keep a grandparent from visits is in the child’s best interest. If both parents file affidavits denying the requested visit, the court can dismiss the grandparent’s request without a hearing. That being said, even if such affidavits were to be filed, the grandparent could overcome the presumption by providing evidence that not visiting with the grandparent would be harmful to the child.
Ordered Grandparenting Time
If grandparenting time is ordered, the family court would then examine different factors to decide how much time the child should have with their grandparent. For instance, the court can consider the child’s emotional connection with their grandparent, the length and quality of their prior relationship, the grandparent’s “moral fitness,” and the grandparent’s mental and physical health.
We have experience helping clients assess the issues related to grandparent access and can help you understand your options. Please contact us online or by phone if we may be of assistance. https://www.michiganestateplans.com/contact/