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Visitation

Do Grandparents have Visitation Rights?

Yes. However, it should be noted that the law on grandparents visitation changed in recent years. Until 2018, grandparents in Georgia were allowed to petition the court for visitation regarding their grandchildren. If the grandparents could show it was in the best interest of the child (specifically their health and welfare), then grandparents could petition the court for visitation. In 2018, the Georgia Supreme Court found portions of the grandparents visitation statute unconstitutional. The Court held that it was unconstitutional to award visitation to a grandparent over the objection of fit parents based simply on the best interests of the child, without a clear and convincing showing of actual or imminent harm to the child.

M&T Practice Pointer

Please note that grandparents cannot seek visitation if the parents of the child are not separated and the child is still living with both parents.

How is Grandparent Visitation Determined?

Upon the grandparents' filing of a visitation action or intervention, the court may choose to grant reasonable visitation rights to the grandparents if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the health or welfare of the child would be harmed unless such visitation is granted and if the best interests of the child would be served by such visitation.

The court considers 4 factors when determining if there is clear and convincing evidence that the health and welfare of the child would be harmed unless there is visitation by the grandparents (or other family member).

  1. The minor child resided with the family member for six months or more;
  2. The family member provided financial support for the basic needs of the child for at least one year;
  3. There was an established pattern of regular visitation or child care by the family member with the child; or
  4. Any other circumstance exists indicating that emotional or physical harm would be reasonably likely to result if such visitation is not granted.

Grandparent visitation rights in Georgia

2018 Law Change For Grandparent Visitation 

It's important to note that law on grandparents visitation rights in Georgia changed recently and is continuing to develop. In 2018, The Supreme Court of Georgia found portions of the visitation rights statute (O.C.G.A. § 19-7-1) unconstitutional. The Court noted that the statutory provisions authorizing courts to award child visitation to a grandparent over the objection of a fit parent without a clear and convincing showing of harm to child in circumstances involving the death, incapacitation, or incarceration of the other parent violated the fundamental right of parents to the care, custody, and control of their children under state constitution.

Additional Resources

Feel free to read more about related topics. You've got questions, Meriwether & Tharp is here with the answers you need. 
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