Under Michigan law, the best interests of the child are paramount in custody and visitation matters involving parents and grandparents. Other emotional and financial concerns also play a role in custody and parenting time matters involving grandparents.
Michigan provides limited rights for grandparent visitation. There is a legal presumption that supports the parents’ denial of grandparent visitation rights unless their denial creates a substantial risk of harm to the child’s mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
Grandparents often seek visitation because they believe that their grandchildren will feel abandoned. Legal actions seeking visitation, however, usually follow and can compound other family disruptions like divorce or a parent’s death.
Children may face some of these difficulties in these visitation cases:
- Discussing personal family business with lawyers, social workers, and judges.
- Feeling they have to choose between their parents and grandparents.
- Feeling guilty over being the focus of the dispute.
- Doubting their parents’ authority or judgment.
- More tension in their home life because of the dispute and financial hardships for their family.
Mediation may lead to less conflict. At times, family disputes may resolve themselves over time and visitation can occur without legal action.
Grandparents and other family members also lose privacy. They could be expected to testify in court and undergo cross-examination about their family and other personal matters. They may have to involve other family and friends in the case if they have pertinent information.
This process can be time-consuming and involve meetings with lawyers, court appearances, and mediation. These come with financial costs for the grandparents and the children’s parents.
Attorneys can help family members consider their options and rights. They can represent their legal interests in negotiations and proceedings and seek an agreement that protects the grandchildren’s best interest.