Grandparents’ rights in Georgia regarding their grandchildren are some of the common issues in family law. Legal disputes may arise where grandparents seek custody or visitation of their grandchildren. Under certain circumstances, Georgia law allows a grandparent to file for custody or visitation. Grandparents’ rights in Georgia could be found at O.C.G.A. Sections 19-7-3 and 19-7-1.
If you are a grandparent interested in discussing grandparents’ rights in Georgia, call Atlanta Divorce Lawyer for a free consultation.
Can grandparents get custody in Georgia?
Grandparents may get custody of their grandchildren in Georgia under certain circumstances. Grandparents must satisfactorily show that the minor children will suffer physical or long-term emotional harm if custody were awarded to the biological parent.
The burden of proof here is higher than the usual burden of proof in civil actions. Once this showing is made, grandparents must then prove that an award of custody to the grandparents will best promote the minor children’s welfare and happiness. Clark v. Wade, 273 Ga. 587 (2001).
For example, where the grandparents made a showing that the biological mother of the minor children exhibited emotional immaturity, lack of parenting skills, inappropriate conduct, drug abuse, and irresponsibility toward her minor children, custody of the minor children may be awarded to the grandparents. Strickland v. Strickland, 298 Ga. 630 (2016).
How hard is it for grandparents to get custody of their grandchildren?
It may be hard for grandparents to get custody of their grandchildren. As explained above, certain requirements must be met before custody of minor children may be awarded to grandparents.
Also, a showing that physical or long-term emotional harm will result if custody is awarded to the biological parent must be made by clear and convincing evidence. This is not a low burden of proof. Talk with Atlanta Divorce Lawyer to see if you have grounds to file for custody of your grandchildren.
Can grandparents sue for visitation rights in Georgia?
Under certain circumstances, grandparents may sue for reasonable visitation with their grandchildren. Grandparents may file a new action to seek visitation rights to their grandchildren. However, a new action for visitation rights is not allowed if the parents of the minor children are not separated and the minor children are living with both parents.
Grandparents may be awarded visitation rights if the grandparents make a showing that the health or welfare of the grandchildren would be harmed unless such visitation is granted and if the best interests of the grandchildren would be served by such visitation.
The court may conclude that harm to the grandchildren is reasonably likely when, prior to the action:
- The grandchildren resided with the grandparents for 6 months or more;
- The grandparents provided financial support for the grandchildren for at least 1 year;
- There was an established pattern of regular visitation or child care by the grandparents; or
- Any other circumstances exist indicating that emotional or physical harm would be reasonably likely to result if such visitation is not granted.
How do I file for grandparents’ rights in Georgia?
General steps required to file for grandparents’ rights in Georgia are as follows:
- Draft the appropriate petition (note that an original action may not be allowed in certain circumstances and that the grandparent may need to intervene in an existing action)
- Electronically file the petition and serve the other party
Can a parent deny a grandparent visitation in Georgia?
A parent may deny a grandparent visitation in Georgia if there is no court order requiring such grandparent visitation.
If there is a court order requiring grandparent visitation and the parent is withholding such visitation, a grandparent may be able to enforce the court order via contempt.
What legal rights do grandparents have in Georgia?
Without a court order awarding visitation with or custody of their grandchildren, grandparents do not have any automatic legal rights to visitation or custody.
Thus, a parent may turn down a grandparent’s request for visitation if there is no court order in place.
Grandparents rights after death of a parent in Georgia
Grandparents rights after the death of a parent in Georgia does not necessarily differ from grandparents rights where both parents are alive. In other words, the death of a parent does not result in automatic visitation rights to a grandparent nor does the death of a parent necessarily make it easier for a grandparent to seek visitation. In fact, the same legal standard applies to both types of cases. Patten v. Ardis, 304 Ga. 140 (2018).