Grandparents and grandchildren have a special relationship. If you are a grandparent who is being denied the opportunity to spend time with your grandchild, Michigan law may be able to help you — or it may not, depending on the specific circumstances.
Even if your case falls within the Michigan statute that allows you to petition for grandparenting time, it is still difficult – but by no means impossible – to prevail in getting a court order that allows you to spend time with your grandchild.
Can I ask the court for grandparenting time if the child’s parent does not allow me to visit?
Grandparents in Michigan can petition the court for grandparenting time if one or more of the following circumstances apply:
- There is an action for divorce, separate maintenance or annulment of the parents’ marriage already pending.
- The parents are divorced, living under an agreement of legal separation, or have been granted an annulment.
- One of the child’s parents has died.
- The parents have never been married and do not live in the same house. In this case, the father’s parents can only petition for visitation if there has been a formal acknowledgement or judgment of paternity and if the father has been paying child support for a period of time.
- The child lives with a third party, rather than with either parent.
- In the past year before the petition of visitation was filed, the grandparent acted as the child’s custodian, even if there was no court order of custody.
If both of the child’s parents file an affidavit saying that spending time with the grandparent is not in the child’s best interests, the court will not hear the motion. However, this does not apply if one of the parents is the child’s stepparent, and the grandparent is the parent of the biological parent who has died or has lost parental rights.
What do I have to prove to get grandparenting time?
Even if your grandchild falls within the scope of the grandparents’ visitation statute, there is a presumption that fit parents will act in the child’s best interests. In seeking visitation, you must first prove that the refusal to allow the child to visit with you creates a substantial risk of harm to the child’s health, whether physical, emotional or mental.
If you do prevail on the first question, the court will then determine whether visitation with you is in the best interests of the child. The court will look at all of the following factors:
- Whether the child has a loving and affectionate relationship with the grandparent
- The grandparent’s moral fitness
- The grandparent’s health
- The child’s reasonable preference
- The fact that there is hostility between the parent(s) and the grandchild, and how this may affect the child
- Whether the grandparent will encourage the child to have a positive relationship with the parent(s)
If you are a grandparent who has been denied the ability to spend time with your grandchild, call the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins. Attorney Robbins represents grandparents throughout the Tri-County and Detroit metropolitan areas. He is eminently qualified to advise you on your chances of getting grandparenting time.