E. Noreen Banks-Ware
According to statistics from GrandFacts, about 218,708 children under 18 years of age in Georgia live with their grandparents. Just like parents, grandparents play an important role in raising their grandchildren in many families across Georgia. If a parent divorces, dies, or abandons the children, the grandparents may be unsure about their rights regarding visitation or child custody.
If you're a grandparent in the state of Georgia who wants to know his or her rights to visitation, or if you're seeking custody of your grandchildren, it is important that you speak with a knowledgeable Georgia family law attorney for proper guidance.
Attorney Noreen Banks-Ware can offer you the experienced legal counsel and advocacy you need. Whether you are looking to establish child custody or a visitation schedule, Noreen Banks-Ware will fight compassionately for your best interest and the well-being of your family. The E.N. Banks-Ware Law Firm LLC proudly serves clients throughout Lithonia, Decatur, Conyers, and Covington, Georgia.
Grandparents' Rights to Visitation
Under Georgia law, a grandparent is the parent of a minor child's parent. If the child's parents are not separated or divorced, and the child is living with both parents, the grandparents may not be eligible to file a motion for visitation rights. However, grandparents can seek visitation rights when:
- The child's parents are separated
- The child's welfare or health would be harmed without grandparent visitation
- The visitation is in the child's best interests and welfare
The following rights also apply to grandparents in Georgia:
- Grandparents may file their own, original court action for visitation with their grandchild once every two years.
- Grandparents can't request visitation in a year when there is a pending child custody action.
However, if there is a pending child custody action, grandparents can "intervene" (join) as a party to it if:
- The action concerns the custody or visitation rights of their minor grandchild
- It is an action to terminate the parental rights of either parent
- It is an action by a step-parent or blood relative to adopt the child
As mentioned earlier, the Georgia court will grant a grandparent's reasonable petition for visitation provided it is in the child's best interests and welfare. The following factors may be considered to determine that it's in the best interest of the child:
- Whether the child stayed with the grandparent for up to six months
- Whether the grandparent supported the child financially for over a year
- Whether the grandparent made it a duty to provide childcare or visit the child regularly
- Whether it will interfere with the child's schooling
- Whether the surrounding circumstances indicate that denying the grandparent visitation may harm the child emotionally or physically
How Loss of Parental
Rights Affects Visitation
If a stepparent adopts a child after one of the child's parents remarries, the parent automatically loses their parental rights. At the same time, the grandparent (father and/or mother of the parent whose rights have ended) will lose their visitation rights.
For example, assuming the mother remarries and the child was adopted by her new husband, the parental rights of the biological father will be terminated. Therefore, the paternal grandparents will no longer be able to request child visitation.
How Adoption Affects Visitation
Grandparents' visitation rights with a child will terminate if the child is adopted unless he or she was adopted by a blood relative.
Gaining Custody of Grandchildren
To get custody of their grandchildren, the grandparent will need to file a petition for custody. In a custody proceeding between a grandparent and the child's parents, the Georgia court will determine custody based on the best interests and welfare of the child.
The court has a presumption that parental custody is in the best interests of the child. Nonetheless, the grandparent can refute this presumption with substantial evidence that granting child custody to the grandparent would be in the child's best interests and would best improve the welfare and happiness of the minor child.
Work With an Experienced
Georgia Family Law Attorney
As a grandparent, filing for child custody or visitation in Georgia involves several complexities. Thankfully, Georgia law permits a limited number of third parties, including grandparents and other relatives, to petition for child custody or visitation. A knowledgeable Georgia grandparents' rights attorney can offer you the comprehensive guidance you need and help explore your legal options.
Attorney Noreen Banks-Ware has devoted her career to offering experienced legal guidance to clients in family law matters, including cases of grandparents' rights. As your legal counsel, she will review your unique situation and help you understand your possible legal options. Using her extensive experience, Noreen Banks-Ware will help settle relationship differences diligently and peacefully and fight compassionately for your family's best interest.
Contact E.N. Banks-Ware Law Firm LLC today to schedule a free one-on-one consultation. Noreen Banks-Ware will offer you the knowledgeable legal counsel and advocacy you need to navigate key decisions. Noreen Banks-Ware is proud to serve clients across Lithonia, Decatur, Conyers, and Covington, Georgia.