Many families recognize the importance of a grandparent’s involvement in their grandchild’s life, and the important bonding and learning experience the younger generations gain from interaction with grandparents, and extended family members. However, sometimes parents and grandparents do not see eye to eye on this matter, and disputes may arise regarding whether a child should see his or her grandparent(s) and/or how often visits should occur.
In certain circumstances under Michigan law, grandparents may have rights to ask a court to order that they have visitation with their grandchildren. In 2000, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion in Troxel v. Granville, which discussed the fit natural parents’ constitutional right to raise his or her child without government interference. What this means for grandparents is that if a fit parent denies a grandparent visits with his or her grandchildren, the court should not generally intervene by ordering a parent to provide a grandparent with visits. However, the Troxel v Granville cases allowed for some exceptions to this rule, and Michigan has adopted statutes which give rise to grandparent’s rights in certain circumstances.
Some of the circumstances which may give rise to court ordered grandparent visitation under the law would be when:
While this is not an all inclusive list, there are many circumstances in which a grandparent may have a legal right to seek a visitation order through the courts. As a general rule grandparent visitation is occasional and infrequent, and is not equivalent to parenting time that a natural parent would receive, however, ongoing and regular visits are, in most situations, in the Child’s best interests. It is always best practices to resolve inter-family disputes informally with the child’s needs in mind, but sometimes that is simply not possible and court intervention is necessary to ensure the child’s best interests and needs are being met.
If you have a concern about grandparent’s rights or grandparent visitation, at Schmeltzer & Bostic, we can assist you with understanding your rights, the legal process involved, and work with you to help you reach your legal objectives for you and your family.