After a divorce where the parties share minor children from the marriage or a situation in which unmarried parents split up, grandparents often want to remain in their grandchildren’s lives in a meaningful capacity. In some circumstances, grandparents might be concerned about a grandchild’s well-being and might seek grandparenting time out of concern for the child. Yet in many other circumstances, grandparents feel that they are being removed from the grandchild’s life, or that a parent is limiting their ability to interact with and spend time with the grandchild. What steps can grandparents in Michigan take to enforce their grandparents’ rights concerning their grandchildren? Consider the following information from our Michigan child custody attorneys.
Determine Whether You Can Seek a Grandparenting Time Order
The first step in any grandparents’ rights case is for the grandparent(s) to determine whether it is possible to seek a grandparenting time order. To be eligible to seek a grandparenting time order, one or more of the following must be true according to Michigan law:
- Grandchild’s parents have an action for divorce, separate maintenance, or annulment currently pending before the court;
- Grandchild’s parents are currently divorced or separated with a judgment for separate maintenance;
- Grandchild’s parents had their marriage annulled;
- Grandchild’s parent (who is the child of the grandparents) is deceased;
- Grandchild’s parents were never married, are not currently residing in the same household, and paternity has been established;
- Grandchild does not reside in a home with a parent, and a person aside from the parent(s) has legal custody; or
- Grandparent established a custodial environment for the grandchild in the year prior to seeking grandparenting time regardless of whether there was any legal or formal arrangement for grandparent custody.
File an Action for Grandparenting Time
If a grandparent is eligible to seek grandparenting time based on the circumstances outlined above, then the next step is for the grandparent(s) seeking grandparenting time to file a motion for grandparenting time in the court that has jurisdiction of the case or in the county where the grandchild currently resides. The motion for grandparenting time must include an affidavit that supports the reason for requesting the order, and anyone with legal custody must be given notice. Parties who have legal custody can file opposing affidavits. Typically, the court will then hear the case.
It is important to know that courts give deference to fit parents’ decisions, and thus as Michigan law explains, “it is presumed . . . that a fit parent’s decision to deny grandparenting time does not create a substantial risk of harm to the child’s mental, physical, or emotional health.” Accordingly, in order to get grandparenting time, the grandparent(s) will need to “rebut the presumption” and “provide by a preponderance of the evidence that the parent’s decision to deny grandparenting time creates a substantial risk of harm to the child’s mental, physical, or emotional health.” When two fit parents oppose an order for grandparenting time, the court will not hear the case and will dismiss the complaint or motion.
Contact a Child Custody Attorney in Michigan
If you are a grandparent in Michigan who wants to have rights when it comes to your grandchildren and the ability to spend time with your grandchildren, you should speak with a Michigan child custody attorney about an order for grandparenting time. Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins today for more information.