Grandparents Rights in Georgia FAQ

Do grandparents have any rights of custody or visitation with their grandchildren in Georgia?

Yes, grandparents and third parties (aunts, uncles, other relatives and sometimes even non-relatives) do have rights in Georgia to seek custody or visitation with their grand children (or with the children of others for a “third party”), but there is a very strong preference for natural parents to have custody of their own children.

My grandson has lived with me for the past three years. His parents (my son and his wife) have had little or no contact with him during that time, but now, they want my grandson to live with them. Is there anything that I can do to ensure that my grandson will continue to live with me?

In a custody proceeding between the parents and a grandparent, the court will determine custody based on the best interest of the child standard. This standard requires the grandparent to show that (1) parental custody would harm the child; and (2) granting custody to the grandparent will promote the child’s health, welfare and happiness. A grandparent has a more difficult legal standard to meet than does a parent when seeking custody of a child.

My grandchildren have lived with me for the past three years. Their parents (my son and his wife) have had little or no contact with the children during that time, and now, they want the children to live with them. What can I do to ensure that I will be able to spend time with my grandchildren once they are living with their parents?

Georgia law allows grandparents to seek visitation rights with their grandchildren in any case involving custody of the grandchildren, including a divorce between a child’s parents. In such cases, the court may grant visitation rights to the grandparent if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that (1) the health and/or welfare of the children would be harmed unless the visitation was granted and (2) granting the visitation would be in the best interest of the children.

SOURCE: DivorceNet

Court Won’t Review Grandparents Case

A widowed father lost his bid Monday to have the Supreme Court decide whether grandparents should have court-ordered visits with his son.

The justices refused to get involved in the dispute between Shane Fausey, a federal-prison guard in Pennsylvania, and his dead wife’s mother.

Cheryl Hiller won rulings in Pennsylvania courts giving her regular visits with Fausey’s son, Kaelen, over the father’s objection.

Grandparents do not have to prove that being kept away would be harmful to their grandchildren in order to get court-ordered visitation, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said.

Fausey said the court ruling violated his constitutional right to make parenting decisions.

The Supreme Court has never answered that constitutional question and state courts are divided on the issue. Twelve states prohibit courts from ordering grandparent visitation unless it can be shown that the child would be harmed by their absence, Fausey’s lawyers said in court papers.

The case is Fausey v. Hiller, 06-863.

SOURCE: New York Times and the following blogs by Grant Griffiths: Grandparent Visitation Blog, Kansas Family and Divorce Lawyer, Kansas Family Law Blog