- Kim Grover
Let's talk about Grandparenting time. There was a healthy debate in one of the community Facebook pages about whether or not there are grandparents' rights.
There is a very specific statute (MCL 722.27b) that controls when and how grandparents can petition for grandparenting time.
Basically, if you have two parents who are married to each other, and they have decided to deny the grandparents time with the grandchildren, you are out of luck. The law presumes that two fit parents have the right to decide whether or not a grandparent can have access to their child.
However, if the parents are in the middle of a divorce, are already divorced, the parent that is the grandparent's child is deceased, or the parents have never been married and the father has been established to be the father through a variety of means, then the grandparent has standing to file an action for grandparenting time.
That is just the beginning of this process. The court presumes the parent is fit and can make the decision to withhold the child from the grandparents. Therefore, one way to attack this is to attack the fitness of the parents. If the parents are fit, the grandparent must then prove by the preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not) that withholding the child from the grandparents causes a substantial risk of harm to the child. Finally, if the grandparents can overcome this burden the court must look at the best interests of the child and determine whether or not an order for grandparenting time is in that child's best interest.
These situations are heartbreaking. These court cases are costly. It is best to consult with an attorney before embarking on this legal endeavor. The court only allows grandparents to file these motions once every two years, so if you fail on the first go around you will have to wait to try again.
Our office has in depth experience with these cases. Please call us for a consultation to evaluate the facts of your particular case.