If you are a grandparent in Georgia who is being left out of your grandchild’s life due to the parents’ divorce, you will be happy to hear that Georgia law specifically allows judges to grant grandparents “reasonable visitation” with their grandchildren in cases of divorce. In fact, if you are granted the right to visit with your grandchildren, the law requires that you are granted a minimum of 24 hours each month.
How does a judge decide whether to grant a grandparent visitation rights? First, the judge must find that the health or welfare of the child would be harmed unless visitation is granted. Second, it must be in the child’s best interests to visit with his or her grandparents. The law in Georgia, O.C.G.A. 19-7-3, states that a court may find harm to the child under one or more of the following circumstances:
- The child previously resided with the grandparent for six months or longer
- The grandparent provided financial support for the basic needs of the child for at least a year
- There has been a pattern of regular visitation or child care by the grandparent
- Other circumstances indicate that emotional or physical harm would be reasonably likely to result if visitation is not granted
While the courts still give deference to a parent’s decision regarding visitation, the parent’s decision is not conclusive. In fact, the revised law now creates a presumption that a child who is denied contact, or an opportunity for contact, with a grandparent may suffer an emotional injury that is harmful.
However, some limitations do remain under the revised law. Grandparents still may not seek visitation if the child is living in an intact family, meaning a family in which both parents live with the child. In addition, the presumption under the revised law can be rebutted by evidence that the child would not suffer emotional injury if denied contact with his or her grandparents.
If you’re a grandparent in Georgia and have questions about visitation rights, please contact attorney Elyssa Williams at (678)613-5732 today to discuss this matter further.