Family Law Insights

Visitation Rights of Grandparents in Georgia

Posted on: June 3rd, 2013

In recent years the issue of a grandparent’s right to seek visitation has been a controversial and propagating phenomenon. Prior to former president Clinton’s signature of the Visitation Rights Enforcement Act in 1998, grandparents were awarded visitation rights only within the state they resided. If the custodial parent were to move to another state the grandparent would be faced with additional litigation to exercise their rights of visitation in the child’s new state of residency. The passing of the Visitation Rights Enforcement Act enabled grandparents the right of visitation without regard to which state the child resided.

Although the act grants visitation rights to third parties no matter the child’s location within the United States, states interpret the act differently leaving grandparents without guarantee of their ongoing access to a grandchild. To seek child custody or visitation rights in Georgia, grandparents can file an Original Action for Visitation or become involved in an existing case for custody, divorce, adoption, or termination of parental rights.

However, it is important to note that in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case of Troxel v. Granville in 2000 the court ruled that a fit parent will be awarded the exclusive legal right to determine who visits their children. In Georgia, the Supreme Courts have ruled that requiring grandparent visitation may violate a parents’ right to raise a family without interference.

The visitations right of grandparents and third parties remains hotly debated and presents difficult and complex legalities. We advise speaking with one of our family law attorneys if you are experiencing a visitation or custody issue. Our attorneys can advise you of your rights and responsibilities, and help you determine the best course of action for you and your family. We look forward to working with you.

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