Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Does Georgia Recognize Grandparent Rights?

Yes and no. Georgia does not have specific statutes providing a presumptive grandparent-grandchild legal right, however, Georgia law does allow grandparents to seek custody or visitation with their grandchildren in some situations.

Child custody and visitation are both based on the best interests of the child. http://bechtold-law.blogspot.com/2011/02/who-determines-child-custody.html. Georgia Courts have a strong preference to keep children with their parents; therefore when there is a disagreement, grandparents often have to endure a full legal proceeding in order to exercise their legal rights with their grandchildren. Even when grandparents have cared for their grandchildren in the absence of their parents, grandparent rights are not automatic; a Court Order is required to ensure custody or visitation with grandchildren. O.C.G.A. § 19-7-3(b).

Additionally, grandparents are not authorized in Georgia to file an original action for grandchild custody or visitation when the parents of the grandchild are not separated and the grandchild is living with both parents. O.C.G.A. § 19-7-3.

In order for grandparents to obtain custody of their grandchild they must show that parental custody would harm the child and that granting custody to the grandparent will promote the child's health, welfare, and happiness. Grandparents can also seek visitation with their grandchild, much like a divorcing spouse. Grandparent visitation rights are granted when a Court finds that the health or welfare of the grandchild would be harmed unless the visitation was granted and that granting the visitation would be in the best interests of the grandchild.

Both grandparent custody or visitation actions can be very lengthy and stressful. There are alternative approaches to deal with visiting your grandchildren, call us today to discuss your options. http://www.bechtold-law.com/CONTACT.HTML

Additional free legal information about grandparent rights can be found on nolo.com.

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