In Michigan, grandparents have the right to seek Grandparenting Time with grandkids after the parents’ divorce, legal separation or annulment if two very specific conditions are met, according to Michigan Legislature.
Guidelines for Grandparenting Time Eligibility
Number One – The Grandparent is only eligible for visitation time if he or she cannot have access to the grandchildren during his or her child’s custody time.
To clarify, we’ll establish a common scenario using generic names. So let’s say the Grandparents are Arthur and Beatrice. Their child, Thomas, has a daughter, Anne. Arthur and Beatrice can only seek Grandparenting Time with Anne if Thomas is unavailable to take advantage of his parenting time because of death, incarceration, deployment with the military, work outside the country or severe health problems.
Number Two – The grandparents must demonstrate an existing, established and healthy relationship with the child. The Grandparents must demonstrate that “the grandchildren would be harmed if the relationship could not continue,” said Michigan Grandparents’ Rights Attorney Kathryn Wayne-Spindler.
The courts will consider the child’s best interests when determining Grandparenting Time. As with parenting time considerations, the courts will look into the grandparents’ capability of providing an appropriate environment. The grandparents will be asked to show that they have the necessary physical, mental, moral, financial, and emotional abilities to provide shelter, safety, nutrition and love while the children are in their care.
Limitations to Grandparenting Time
Grandparenting Time does not grant parental rights. For instance, a grandparent with visitation rights, does not have the right to change the child’s school or facilitate him/her getting cosmetic surgery.
“The entry of a grandparenting time order does not prevent a court of competent jurisdiction from acting upon the custody of the child, the parental rights of the child, or the adoption of the child,” according to Michigan Legislative statute 722.27 section 11.
Adoption of a child by a stepparent under the Michigan adoption code does not terminate the right of the parent of a deceased parent of the child to commence an action for grandparent visitation time with that child according to Michigan Legislature
Changes in Custodial Circumstances
As previously stated, one of the qualifications for Grandparenting Time is the absence of one of the parents, so what happens when that parent returns? According to Wayne-Spindler, it is handled on a case-by-case basis. “There is no automatic, across-the-board answer because there are so many different possible circumstances.” If the non-custodial parent moves back to the area and re-establishes non-custodial visitation, the Grandparenting Time could be discontinued because they would have access to the children through the parent. Sometimes, however, the non-custodial parent is not fit or willing to seek custody so the Grandparenting Time could continue.
Modification or Termination of Grandparenting Time
“A court shall not modify or terminate a grandparenting time order entered under this section unless it finds by a preponderance of the evidence, on the basis of facts that have arisen since entry of the grandparenting time order or were unknown to the court at the time it entered that order, that a change has occurred in the circumstances of the child or his or her custodian and that a modification or termination of the existing order is necessary to avoid creating a substantial risk of harm to the mental, physical, or emotional health of the child,” according to Michigan Legislative statute 722.27 section 11.
Benefits of Grandparenting Time
Grandparenting Time can be a wonderful way for both sides of the family to continue supporting the children. Grandparents are often uniquely qualified to pass along family traditions. They may be a compassionate link to the missing parent. Grandparents who are interested in Grandparenting Time are often highly-motivated to provide stability and encouragement during a difficult time of family transition. For more information about Grandparenting Time, contact the Milford, Michigan office of Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates for a free consultation at 248-676-1000.
The Experience White Lake Attorneys at Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates help clients throughout Southeastern Michigan including Oakland, Wayne, Washtenaw, Livingston and Genesee Counties. We handle cases in Milford, Michigan; Highland; Hartland; White Lake; Walled Lake; Commerce; Waterford; Wixom; Howell; South Lyon; New Hudson; Linden; Grand Blanc; Holly and many more local communities.
Written and Posted by Christine Donlon Long,
Communications’ Specialist for Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates