Grandparents Have the Constitutional Right to Visitation in Michigan

The Michigan Court of Appeals recently ruled on a very significant case for grandparents' rights. The case dealt with the constitutionality of The Grandparent Visitation Act in Michigan and has finally concluded it is constitutional after several trips through the legal system.

Varran v. Granneman

In Varran v. Granneman, the mother and father of a minor child were unwed minors when they conceived and had a baby. The mother died while the child was a still a minor and the child was being raised by the father in his parents' home. Legally, the biological father had sole custody of the minor child upon the death of the mother, though his parents were co-raising the child with him and provided crucial help and care.

At some point, the grandparents and the father of the minor child, still a very young man himself, got into a major conflict and the grandparents asked their son to move out of their home. He moved into his own apartment and for a time, the minor child lived with the grandparents and he began taking his son for weekend visits.

As time went on, the father increased the amount of time his son lived with him until he had his son for the entirety of the work week and the child would then spend weekends with his grandparents. Eventually, he told his parents that they would no longer be allowed to have overnight visits with their grandson and future visitation would only be under his supervision.

Legal Action by the Grandparents

Years earlier, when the biological mother was still alive, the son had cut off visitation to his parents. They then filed a motion in the family court where the mother had a custody action pending. The family court judge in the mother's custody case ordered that the grandparents were entitled to visitation with their grandson every other weekend. The father appealed this early ruling and the case spent many years being appealed up and down the Michigan court system. The Court of Appeals has finally issued the ruling that the grandparents have been hoping for since the beginning; that they are legally entitled to visit with their grandchild.

Legal Significance of This Ruling

This case is very significant as Michigan law has now been interpreted such that Michigan's grandparent visitation statute is constitutional. The court also held that a family court judge need not hear testimony from a mental health professional to determine that withholding visitation is harmful to the child. Grandparents can now assert their rights to have relationships with their grandchildren without the need to hire expensive experts to testify about mental harm the grandchild will suffer without visiting with them.

The effect of this ruling is to allow grandparents to assert their rights to visit their grandchildren if they are denied visitation. Grandparents who have loving, close relationships with their grandchildren have the constitutional right to maintain that relationship, even if the child's parents prefer otherwise.

Work with a Michigan Grandparents' Rights Attorney

If you are a grandparent that would like to seek visitation with your grandchild or grandchildren, please contact Michael Robbins to schedule an initial consultation to discuss the details of your grandparents' rights issue. Call 248-646-7980 or contact him online to schedule your appointment. Mr. Robbins is an experienced family attorney located in Bloomfield Hills. He accepts cases in the Tri-County area of Oakland, Wayne and Macomb counties and throughout the state of Michigan.