O.C.G.A. §19-7-3 governs visitation for family members. Family members in this statute is defined as grandparents, great-grandparents, or siblings. O.C.G.A. §19-7-3(a)(1). As a grandparent, you have the legal right to exercise visitation with your grandchild. Grandparents can file an original action seeking visitation or intervene in a pending action where the issue of custody, divorce of the parent(s), termination of parental rights, visitation or adoption is before the court. O.C.G.A. §19-7-3(b)(1)(B).
As a grandparent, the court may grant you visitation if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that the health and welfare of your grandchild would be harmed unless you are granted visitation and if the best interests of your grandchild would be served by such visitation. O.C.G.A §19-7-3(c)(1). When considering whether the health and welfare of your grandchild would be harmed, the court shall consider and may find that harm to your grandchild will likely result when prior to bringing an action for visitation, your grandchild lived with you for six months or more, you provided financial support for the basic needs of your grandchild for at least one year, you had an established pattern of regular visitation or child care with your grandchild or “any other circumstance exists indicating that emotional or physical harm would be reasonably likely to result if such visitation is not granted.” Id.
There is a rebuttable presumption that if you had a preexisting relationship with your grandchild, he may suffer emotional injury that is harmful to his health if your grandchild is denied any contact with you or is not provided some minimal opportunity for contact with you. O.C.G.A §19-7-3(c)(3).
For some grandparents, exercising visitation with their grandchild is not as simple as calling to make arrangements with a parent. If you are among the many grandparents who are being denied access to their grandchildren contact an attorney today to learn more about your specific rights to visitation with your grandchild.