In many family law cases involving the custody of a minor child, the minor child’s grandparents may lose visitation with their grandchild. If the parent of the grandchild has his or her visitation rights are terminated, the custodial parent does not have to grant his former in-laws any visitation with their grandchild. O.C.G.A. § 19-7-3 was written to give grandparents a legal recourse in the event they are unable to visit with their grandchildren because of those circumstances.
The Georgia Court of Appeals ruled the previous version of this code section unconstitutional in 2005. This Georgia code section was revised earlier this year, and it became effective in May 2012.
The new statute gives grandparents of a minor child a separate right of action or an intervention right in a Georgia Court where there is a pending custody modification, divorce, termination of parental or visitation rights, or an adoption when the child is adopted by his or her blood relative or stepparent. This provision therefore enables two types of actions. The grandparents can file (1) an action for visitation rights or (2) an intervention into the pending case between the minor child’s parents.
The most interesting change to the new code is under § 19-7-3(c). The previous version stated, “there shall be no presumption in favor of visitation by any grandparent.” However, the new version omits this sentence. So, there is arguably a presumption of visitation rights by a child’s grandparents.
If you are a grandparent, this means you may have a legal recourse if you no longer have visitation rights with your grandchildren after your child’s parental and/or custody rights have changed. We will work with you to assert your rights under this new law.
Please contact our Cumming, Georgia law office for more information tailored to your circumstances. The above information is for general information purposes only.