When a grandparent case comes before the court, the court must open the door of the process to the grandparents if they meet their initial burden. However, as the case goes along, once it becomes clear that grandparents cannot ultimately prove actual harm to the grandchild, the court can and should discuss the case to end the imposition on the rights of the parents.
Because the New Jersey Grandparent Visitation Statute, N.J. Stat. Ann. § 9:2-7.1, is an incursion on a fundamental right (the right to parental autonomy), the Supreme Court of New Jersey has held that it is subject to strict scrutiny and must be narrowly tailored to advance a compelling state interest. Prior New Jersey jurisprudence establishes clearly that the only state interest warranting the invocation of the State’s parens patriae jurisdiction to overcome the presumption in favor of a parent’s decision and to force grandparent visitation over the wishes of a fit parent is the avoidance of harm to the child. When no harm threatens a child’s welfare, the State lacks a sufficiently compelling justification for the infringement on the fundamental right of parents to raise their children as they see fit. However, when harm is proved and the presumption in favor of a fit parent’s decision making is overcome, the court must decide the issue of an appropriate visitation schedule based on the child’s best interests. The New Jersey Supreme Court is satisfied that United States Supreme Court decisions fully support its conclusion that interference with parental autonomy will be tolerated only to avoid harm to the health or welfare of a child.
The Warren Law Group, LLC can help you file for visitation of your grandchildren. Grandparent’s visitation rights do exist in New Jersey.