Grandkids bring a unique kind of joy to life, and to be denied time with them can be heartbreaking. The State of Michigan has some protection in place for grandparents who are not being given time with their grandkids.
Under certain circumstances, it may be possible to petition the court for an order regarding grandparenting time.
Michigan law (MCL 722.276) states that a grandparent may seek grandparenting time if one of the following situations exists:
- An action for divorce, separate maintenance, or annulment involving the child’s parents is before the court;
- The child’s parents are divorced, separated under a judgment of separate maintenance, or have had their marriage annulled;
- The child’s parent who is a child of the grandparents is deceased;
- The child’s parents have never been married, they are not residing in the same household, and paternity has been established;
- Legal custody of the child has been given to a person other than the child’s parent or the child is placed outside of and does not reside in the home of a parent;
- In the year preceding the commencement of the action for grandparenting time, the grandparent provided an established custodial environment for the child, whether or not the grandparent had custody under a court order.
If one of these situations applies to you, then you may be able to petition for visitation rights with your grandchildren. Keep in mind that having the right to petition for visitation is not the same as having visitation. Filing the petition is just the first step.
Once your petition is filed, the next step is to actually demonstrate to the court that you should have grandparenting time with your grandkids. In Michigan there is a presumption that a fit parent’s decision to deny grandparenting time does not create a substantial risk of harm to the child’s physical, emotional, or mental health. Generally, this means that the courts are giving the fit parent the benefit of the doubt that the decision to deny grandparenting time is in the best interests of their child. In order to overcome this presumption, you, as the grandparent, need to show that it is more likely than not that the parent’s decision to deny grandparenting time DOES create a substantial risk to the child’s physical, emotional, or mental health.
Being able to meet this burden can be challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone. Our office can help you determine if petitioning for grandparenting time is appropriate in your situation and can represent you in your petition.