Being a grandparent is a blessing for many people. You can experience the joy of watching your own children raise kids. Seeing the next generation thrive and mature is fun and exciting for many people, and it often helps people become closer with their children as they offer support in the parenting process. However, if your child ends up divorced, your ability to spend time with your grandchildren could be at risk in the future.
In a situation where your child’s spouse receives full custody, you could find yourself cut off from spending time with your grandchildren. While courts do favor shared custody arrangements, any number of issues could result in your child losing parenting time or custody rights. When that happens, you may have to assert your right to continue your relationship with your grandchildren.
Demonstrate to the courts how your relationship is good for the children
In general, the family courts in New Jersey strive to find solutions that are in the best interests of the children involved. They give less concern to the desires of the adults than the needs of the children. Having a broad support network, including extended family members such as grandparents, can make coping with the stress of divorce easier.
New Jersey law does allow grandparents and siblings to request visitation rights. In some cases, grandparents can also seek adoption of their grandkids, if the parents cannot care for the children. The courts will certainly consider that, as well as the nature of your relationship with the children and their preferences, if they are old enough to make them known.
If one parent supports your application, you must show the courts that a relationship is in the best interests of the children. If neither parent will support your application, however, you must demonstrate that denying visitation could potentially harm the children. The opposing parent(s) must show why he or she does not support your visitation request. If, for example, you have lived with your grandchildren for extended periods of time or have a close and trusting relationship, severing that could easily cause harm to the children.
Always put your grandchildren first
It’s all too easy to get caught up in the contention involved in a court case. You may feel angry and upset about being denied time with your grandchildren. You must always strive to leave those negative feelings behind when interacting with your grandchildren. Let them know you are there for them, and do not engage in negative talk about either of their parents.
Instead, focus on offering them support, a listening ear and a safe space. If you let the best interests of your grandchildren guide your behavior, like it does the court’s decisions, you will demonstrate to the custodial parent that your relationship with the children is positive and healthy. More importantly, you’ll be a source of comfort and love for your grandchildren during what is likely a difficult time.