Grandparents' rights in Georgia
Georgia family law attorneys are often asked about the rights grandparents have to see their grandchildren. Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 19-7-3, a biological grandparent can either file an original action for visitation or join an ongoing action that determines the custody or rights of his grandchild (either an adoption, a divorce, modification or other proceeding) and ask the Court to grant him the right to reasonable visitation with his grandchild. However, if there is no ongoing litigation, in order to file an original action, the child’s parents (biological or adoptive) must currently be separated and the child must not be living with both of his parents. Additionally, an original action requesting visitation rights cannot be filed more than once during any two-year period and cannot be filed in the same year as a different proceeding regarding the custody of the child.
When determining whether to grant a grandparent visitation, the Court assesses the best interest of the child and, if it finds that the “health or welfare” of the child would be damaged if the child did not have visitation with the grandparent, then the Court will grant visitation rights. Id. The Court must make specific findings of fact regarding its ruling regarding the best interests of the child and the need for visitation.
After the Court grants visitation, a parent, grandparent, or guardian may request that the rights are altered or removed for good cause, but may not do so more than one time in any two-year period. Id.
In any grandparent visitation proceedings, the Court may also appoint a guardian ad litem and make the grandparent pay for these costs, or may assign the case to mediation. Id.
If you are in the middle of a court case involving grandparent visitation, please contact our Atlanta Family Law Attorneys.
By Elizabeth Doak, Associate, Meriwether & Tharp, LLC