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Can Grandparents Be Granted Visitation Rights in Michigan?

Child custody and visitation usually are the concerns of divorced or separated parents, but sometimes other family members claim to have an interest in being part of a child’s upbringing. This occurs most frequently when grandparents feel their relationship with the child is being interrupted. In Michigan, parents generally have the right to deny grandparents’ visitation, but courts may override that decision if it is found that the child will be negatively affected.

Michigan law permits grandparents to seek a formal declaration from the court of their right to visit with their grandchildren in any of these circumstances:

  • An action for divorce, separation maintenance or annulment of the child’s parents is before the court.
  • The child’s parents are divorced, separated or have had their marriage annulled.
  • The child’s parent who is the child of the grandparents seeking visitation is deceased.
  • The child’s parents are not married and are not residing in the same household and paternity has been established.
  • Legal custody of the child has been given to someone other than a parent and the child is not living with a parent.
  • The grandparents provided an established custodial environment for the child for at least a year, even if they never had formal custody.

The law creates a presumption that if parents have chosen to deny visitation to grandparents, there is a reason for them doing so and the denial does not create a risk to the child’s mental, physical and emotional health. Grandparents seeking visitation rights bear the burden of overcoming this presumption. They must show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the denial of visitation has the potential to substantially harm the child.

Even if the burden is met, the court must find that visitation would be in the child’s best interests. This is determined by looking at various factors, such as the child’s preexisting relationship with the grandparents, the child’s preference and the grandparents’ physical and mental health.

If you are a grandparent who is seeking visitation rights or a parent who opposes grandparental visitation, it will be helpful to speak with an experienced family law attorney about the process and the proofs required.

At Dawson Family Law PLLC in Sterling Heights, we frequently help Michigan parents and grandparents navigate the challenges of child custody and visitation issues. To arrange a consultation with an attorney, call our office at 833-671-4445 or contact us online.

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