If you are a grandparent and your son or daughter is going through a divorce or separation, as a parent, you are probably wondering how their divorce/separation will impact the time with your grandchildren. You may also wonder how holidays, vacations, or other family traditions may change as a result of your child’s divorce or separation.
Michigan is a state that prefers to allow “fit” parents to make the day-to-day decisions in regard to how much time a grandchild spends with his or her grandparent. There are laws that do allow for courts to grant grandparent time with the children. MCL 722.27b provides:
(1) A child’s grandparent may seek a grandparenting time order under 1 or more of the following circumstances:
(a) An action for divorce, separate maintenance, or annulment involving the child’s parents is pending before the court.
(b) The child’s parents are divorced, separated under a judgment of separate maintenance, or have had their marriage annulled.
(c) The child’s parent who is a child of the grandparents is deceased.
(d) The child’s parents have never been married, they are not residing in the same household, and paternity has been established by the completion of an acknowledgment of parentage under the acknowledgment of parentage act, by an order of filiation entered under the paternity act, or by a determination by a court of competent jurisdiction that the individual is the father or mother of the child.
(e) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (13), legal custody of the child has been given to a person other than the child’s parent, or the child is placed outside of and does not reside in the home of a parent.
(f) In the year preceding the commencement of an action under subsection (3) for grandparenting time, the grandparent provided an established custodial environment for the child as described in section 7, whether or not the grandparent had custody under a court order.
If You’ve Been Denied
The grandparent will have to show that there is a substantial risk of harm to the child’s mental, physical or emotional health if grandparenting time has been denied. Once that hurdle is overcome, the grandparent will then need to establish that time with the minor child or children is within their best interest under the best interests of the child factors. The factors considered are as follows:
(a) The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the grandparent and the child.
(b) The length and quality of the prior relationship between the child and the grandparent, the role performed by the grandparent, and the existing emotional ties of the child to the grandparent.
(c) The grandparent’s moral fitness.
(d) The grandparent’s mental and physical health.
(e) The child’s reasonable preference, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express a preference.
(f) The effect on the child of hostility between the grandparent and the parent of the child.
(g) The willingness of the grandparent, except in the case of abuse or neglect, to encourage a close relationship between the child and the parent or parents of the child.
(h) Any history of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse or neglect of any child by the grandparent.
(i) Whether the parent’s decision to deny, or lack of an offer of, grandparenting time is related to the child’s well-being or is for some other unrelated reason.
(j) Any other factor relevant to the physical and psychological well-being of the child.
Unfortunately, there is no fundamental right to grandparenting time and not every circumstance allows for the courts to award grandparenting time. The state presumes that the parties involved will work together toward what is in the best interest of minor children, including the allowance of grandparenting time.