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Grandparents’ Rights in a Michigan Divorce

 Posted on June 06, 2018 in Divorce

Oakland County grandparents' rights attorneyLike a rock thrown into a lake, divorce has a ripple effect. It starts with the spouses, of course, who must work through both the emotional and legal process of separating from someone to whom they had pledged their whole heart for their whole life. 

Then, the expanding circle of disturbance touches the children, who have to re-imagine their life split between two parents in two separate houses. And then it ripples out to the extended family, including grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. 

Grandparents and grandchildren, in particular, have a special familial bond. Grandparents, particularly those on the non-custodial parent’s side and those who live far away, may worry about losing touch with their beloved grandkids following a divorce.

Negotiating Grandparenting Time in an Amicable Divorce Situation

Parents of a divorcing couple can start by putting the needs of their adult children first. Even an adult child will often seek the comfort of his or her parents in a tough life situation like a divorce. Let your child know that you are there for them and ask (rather than tell) them what you can do to help. 

Let your adult child know that you are available as a sounding board if they want to discuss the pros and cons of possible parenting time arrangements. Assure your child of how much you love them and your grandchildren and how much you want to maintain strong ties with them. You might even want to suggest the option of the collaborative divorce process, which can give the couple the opportunity to talk, in a structured way, about the value of the grandparent-grandchild relationship. The couple could then, collaboratively, create a plan not only for parenting time but also for grandparenting time. 

Michigan Law on Grandparenting Time in a Contentious Situation

Grandparents have the right to seek a court order granting them visitation rights with their grandchildren. This can be done either while a divorce is pending or at any time after a divorce has been granted in a Michigan court. However, the current Michigan law on grandparenting rights, which took effect in 2005, makes it fairly difficult for grandparents to obtain court-ordered grandparenting time over the objections of a child’s parent.

The law presumes that a child’s “fit” parents have the right to deny grandparent visitation. So, in order to win a court order for grandparenting time, the grandparent must prove two things:

  1. That there is a substantial risk of harm to the child’s mental, physical, or emotional health if the child is not allowed to spend time with the grandparent, and 
  2. That it is in the child’s best interests to spend time with the grandparent, considering 10 factors including the existing relationship between grandparent and child, the grandparent’s moral, mental, and physical fitness, and the child’s preference.

Consult an Experienced Novi, MI Family Law Attorney

In-law relationships are often fraught with tension, and a divorce certainly does not make things any easier. If you are a grandparent being denied time with your grandchildren, you should speak to an experienced Farmington Hills divorce and family law attorney for guidance. Call Elkouri Heath PLC at 248-344-9700 to schedule a free consultation. 






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