I am the child's relative (aunt/grandparent/cousin/etc). Can I get visitation of the child?
If you are a child’s grandparent or sibling, you may ask the Superior Court to give you visitation of the child. A judge will give you visitation if you prove that there is more evidence showing that visitation is in the best interest of the child than there is evidence showing that it is not in the child’s best interest. This means that a judge will look at many factors to decide what s/he thinks will be best for the child. Some of the things a judge will consider are:
- Your relationship with the child;
- Your relationship with both parents or with the child’s guardian;
- How long it has been since you have seen or talked to the child;
- How visitation will affect the child’s relationship with his/her parents or guardian
- How parenting time is already shared, if the child’s parents are separated or divorced
- If you have committed physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect in the past;
- Your motivation for asking for visitation (whether you are filing for visitation in “good faith”)
- Any other factor relevant to the best interests of the child.
However, if you had been a full-time caretaker for the child in the past, then the court will assume that visitation is in the best interest of the child, unless there is other evidence to prove that it is not.1
1 NJSA § 9:2-7.1