Grandparents’ Rights in Sterling Heights, MI

The State of Michigan has specific laws that govern grandparents’ rights to spend time with a grandchild. In limited circumstances when a parent and grandparent cannot agree on the terms of grandparenting time (visitation), a grandparent may petition the court to request an order granting visitation. If you are a parent or grandparent facing grandparents’ rights issues, the Law Offices of Kevin R. Lynch can provide essential legal guidance, support, and representation. With an office located in Sterling Heights, we serve clients throughout Macomb County, Wayne County, and the surrounding areas.

Our Experience and Approach

Michigan family law attorney Kevin R. Lynch has over 20 years of experience helping individuals and families address legal concerns, including matters involving grandparents’ rights. Kevin’s proven success arises from his dedication to listening carefully to a client’s concerns, providing straightforward advice, taking a reasonable approach to resolving disputes, and working hard to find the best solution for the client’s short-term and long-term goals. If judicial intervention becomes necessary, Kevin has the skills and knowledge to advocate vigorously for the client in court.

Summary of Laws on Grandparents’ Rights in Michigan

Michigan laws establish clear rules governing grandparents’ rights in the state. The statutory provisions authorize a court to grant a grandparent the right to have grandparenting time (visitation) with a grandchild only in very limited, specific circumstances.

First, a grandparent must demonstrate that their situation meets at least one of the expressly established statutory criteria to be able to petition the court for an order providing for grandparenting time. If a grandparent’s circumstances satisfy this first requirement, additional legal challenges must be met, which include overcoming a presumption in favor of parental denial and providing evidence to establish that grandparenting time is in the grandchild’s best interest.

Required Circumstances

To petition the court for grandparenting time, a grandparent must demonstrate that at least one of the following situations exists:

  • The child’s parents are involved in a court action for divorce, separation (separate maintenance), or annulment.
  • The child’s parents are divorced, separated under a separate maintenance judgment, or received an annulment in court.
    A deceased parent of the grandchild is the child of the grandparent.
  • The child’s parents never married and do not reside together, and paternity has been established as specified in the law.
  • A non-parent third party has legal custody of the grandchild, and the child does not live in a parent’s home. (This criterion has limited exceptions.)
  • The grandparent provided a custodial environment for the child in the year preceding filing of the petition for grandparenting time.

Meeting one of the requirements is not alone sufficient for a grandparent to receive a court order for grandparenting time. Additional legal principles are applied before the judge makes the decision whether to issue a visitation order.

Presumption in Favor of Parental Denial

Even if a grandparent can demonstrate one of the circumstances in the law, that does not mean the court will automatically grant the request for grandparenting time. If a fit parent denies visitation to the grandparent without putting the child at risk of mental, physical, or emotional harm, the judge must give deference to the parent’s decision.

To overcome the presumption, a grandparent petitioning the court must demonstrate with substantial evidence that the parent’s denial does create a risk of harm to the child. If the grandparent cannot overcome the presumption, the court will not grant the visitation request.

Best Interest of the Child

In addition to overcoming a presumption in favor of a parent’s denial, a petitioning grandparent must demonstrate that a court order for grandparenting time is in the best interest of the grandchild. In making the decision whether visitation is in the child’s best interest, the judge considers all relevant factors, including:

  • Extent of emotional ties between the grandparent and grandchild, including love and affection
  • Length, quality, and nature of the prior relationship between the grandparent and grandchild
  • Grandparent’s moral fitness and mental and physical health
  • Child’s preference, if the court determines the child is old enough to express a preference
  • Effect on the grandchild of hostility between the grandparent and parent
  • Willingness of the grandparent to encourage the child’s relationship with the parent(s), in the absence of abuse or neglect
  • A history of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse of any child by the grandparent
  • Whether the basis for the parent’s denial or refusal to offer grandparenting time relates to the child’s well-being or an unrelated reason
  • Any other factor that relates to the physical and psychological well-being of the child

The burden of proving that grandparenting time is in the best interest of the child is on the grandparent who petitions the court. Meeting the burden requires producing substantial evidence in court to address all of the factors that the court takes into account.

Addressing Grandparents’ Rights in Michigan

As the above explanation demonstrates, the laws and factors that apply to grandparents’ rights in Michigan are legally complex. For a parent or grandparent coping with issues involving grandparenting time, it is critical to talk with an experienced grandparents’ rights attorney who understands the full implications of the laws before making a decision about how to proceed.

Kevin R. Lynch applies more than two decades of Michigan family law experience in helping clients explore options and find resolutions to family concerns, including matters involving grandparents’ rights. If you are a parent or grandparent in need of trustworthy guidance and support, Kevin stands ready to provide highly competent legal counsel and representation.

Schedule a Free Consultation With a Michigan Family Law Attorney

The Law Offices of Kevin R. Lynch P.L.C. provides comprehensive family law services to clients in Macomb County, Wayne County, and the surrounding area. Your initial consultation is free of charge. Talk with us by calling 586-336-1088 or using our online contact form.