Does Georgia Grant Grandparents Rights?

The simple answer to this question is a resounding “YES!” Georgia is one of the states that recognizes that in many cases, a child’s relationship to their grandparents is very significant, and it might cause harm if the child were denied access.

Many of us have fond memories of our grandparents, special memories that last a lifetime. It would be such a shame if a child were denied having these formative experiences because they became a casualty of a contentious divorce.

In this blog, we’ll address some of the key questions that our practice has been asked concerning grandparent visitation rights in Georgia.


Can Grandparents Request Visitation Rights?

In Georgia, you are allowed to file a motion with the court requesting visitation rights. The only restrictions are:

  • You can only file a petition once every two years.
  • You cannot seek visitation with a grandchild who lives with both parents (i.e. the parents are not separated).

You can also intervene on  pending legal action between the parents, where you have a vested interest in maintaining contact with your grandchild. Example of such cases are where parental rights will be terminated or an adoption case would potentially affect your visitation privileges. Therefore, it would be appropriate to ask an attorney to intervene and represent your interests.


What Factors Does the Court Take Into Account?

Essentially, when grandparents ask the court for visitation privileges, the court rules on the same basis as it addresses other issues related to the children, maintaining the best interests of the child. If the child would be harmed by losing contact with the grandparents, the court may rule that visitation is appropriate.

How does the court determine whether a child would be harmed by not having contact? A few questions will need to be answered, including.

  • Did the child reside with the grandparent for at least six months?
  • Have the grandparents provided a regular established schedule of visitation or child care?
  • Did the grandparents provide financial support for basic needs for at least one year?
  • Is there reason to believe that the child would suffer physically, mentally or emotionally if they were denied access to their grandparents?


What Happens When a Petition for Visitation Is Filed?

The court may appoint a GAL (or Guardian Ad Litem) to visit the grandparents, conduct an interview and report their findings to the court. The GAL does not determine rights; they merely act as a third party to give the court information.

If all parties are willing to come up with a visitation schedule, the court may order mediation to work out the details. If the grandparents cannot bear the cost of mediation, or if mediation is not an option, the court will issue a ruling on the petition.

Once rights are granted, they are not usually taken away unless the parent asks the court to change the visitation order. They must show the court good evidence as to why they wish to make a change.


Can I Ask for Full Custody as a Grandparent?

You can, but the court is more than likely going to try and keep the child with their parents. To win custody as grandparents, you would not only have to demonstrate why neither parent is fit to have custody, but also why you would be the best recourse to meet the needs of the child.

If you are a grandparent wanting to have your voice heard, Family Matters Law Group can help you in your fight for grandparent visitation rights. Set up a consultation today by filling out our online contact form.

We have a solid track record helping grandparents in Henry, Clayton and Fayette counties, as well as all over the Atlanta metro area. We feel strongly about helping grandparents, because we know how important they are to the well-being and emotional health of children. Contact us and let us hear your story.