If you are going through a divorce and have minor children from your marriage, or if you are a grandparent and one of your children is currently going through a divorce case involving minor children, the topic of grandparent visitation may be on your mind. Specifically, can a parent deny a grandparent visitation? In some family situations, a parent might believe that a grandparent is not a good influence on the child and may deny visitation, or a parent could deny a grandparent visitation solely as an attempt to upset the other spouse.
Ultimately, is a grandparent able to have visitation even when a parent denies it? Under Michigan law, the topic of “grandparenting time” depends upon the facts of the particular case. We want to provide you with some helpful information about grandparent visitation and when it might be awarded in a Michigan case.
Parents Can Deny a Grandparent Visitation
When a court handles a child custody case and makes a decision about shared parenting time between the parents, the court will not consider the issue of grandparent visitation as part of the child custody order unless the grandparent files a motion during the divorce case. If the child custody case moves forward without one of the grandparents being involved and child custody is finalized, one of the parents can deny a grandparent visitation. Unless grandparents specifically come forward during the divorce case to seek visitation, it is up to the parents to determine who—outside of the parents—spends time with the child.
However, if a parent does deny visitation to a grandparent, the grandparent may have recourse to seek visitation through the court.
Grandparents Can Petition for Visitation in Some Situations
If a parent denies a grandparent visitation, the grandparent does not automatically have the ability to seek visitation. However, in some circumstances, Michigan law does allow the grandparent to petition for visitation. In order to do so, one of the following usually must be true:
- There is a pending divorce, annulment, or action for separate maintenance involving the child’s parents before a Michigan court;
- Child’s parents are divorced, separated through a judgment of separate maintenance, or have an annulled marriage;
- Child’s parent is deceased, and the deceased parent was a child of the grandparent(s);
- Child’s legal parent(s) do not have custody, or the child does not live with legal parent(s); or
- Grandparent created a custodial environment (i.e., took care of the child) during the year or more prior to seeking visitation.
If a grandparent is permitted to seek visitation under Michigan law, then the grandparent will need to show that the child will experience mental or physical suffering without grandparent visitation. Indeed, the statute makes clear that the court will “give deference to the decisions of fit parents,” and the grandparent must provide evidence to overcome that presumption.
Contact a Michigan Child Custody Lawyer for Assistance
Do you have questions about grandparent visitation, or do you need assistance with your child custody case? One of our experienced Michigan child custody lawyers can speak with you about your situation. Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins today.