Grandparent Visitation

After the US Supreme Court decided Troxel v. Granville in 2000, invalidating Washington’s “breathtakingly broad” grandparent and third party visitation statute, there was an onslaught of litigation, nationwide, seeking to
Continue Reading Grandparent Visitation Just Got Easier – Well, Not Really, But At Least There Will Now Be A Uniform Procedure

We don’t typically post about DYFS (now DCPP) or similar type cases on this blog as we usually focus on divorce and related issues. That said, for fun, I was reading the new cases that were decided yesterday and came upon a case that I found compelling, both because it indicated some systemic problems in custody cases and because it had some real strong language about parental rights – that while stating the obvious, perhaps, did so in a powerful way and in a way that needed to be reiterated. 

The case I’m talking about is  C.D., A.P. and D.D. v. N.D.M.  and A.L.   which was an unreported (non-precedential) decision released by the Appellate Division on January 8, 2013.  In that case, the aunt and grandparents received temporary custody of her niece and a best interest evaluation, to be completed within 90 days, was ordered.  The parties ultimately agreed to a joint expert to do the evaluation,  That evaluation, which by court order was to be completed in 90 days, took more than a year to complete.

SYSTEMIC ISSUE #1:  All custody and best interest evaluations are supposed to take 90 days or so.  That almost never happens.  Rather, it is not unusual for it to take 6 months or longer to get a report.  If it is a joint or court appointed expert, the party who doesn’t like the report has the right to get their own report so add another several months to the process.  As in this case, where the mother’s custody with her own child hinged upon this report, the prejudice cannot be quantified.


Continue Reading Getting Temporary Custody of a Relative Does Not Make You the Psychological Parent

For more than a decade, we have known that biological parents have certain constitutional protections that help them defend against grandparents or other third parties seeking visitation with their children. 


Continue Reading Psychological Parents Not Entitled to Same Constitutional Protections as Biological Parents in Grandparent Visitation Dispute

As reported in the online version of the New Jersey Law Journal, in a story by David Gialanella,, state Senator Loretta Weinberg of Bergen County introduced  legislation that would lower the burden of proof for grandparents and siblings seeking visitation.

In the year 2000, grandparent visitation became much more difficult to obtain as a result of the United States Supreme Court case of Troxel v. Granville which held that Washington’s "breathtakingly broad" grandparent visitation statute to be unconstitutional.  At issue was the constituonal right to parental autonomy vs. grandparents vistitation.  That case set off a wave a litigation nation wide attacking state’s grandparent visitation statutes.  New Jersey was not immune to this and in 2003, the New Jersey Supreme Court decided the case of Moriarty v. Bradt (a case in which I drafted the Petition for Certification.)  In Moriarty, the court held that grandparents may be awarded visitation over parental objections if a "potential for harm" standard can be shown by a preponderance of the evidence.  SInce that case, it has been much more difficult for grandparents to get visitation because it is very difficult to show harm, and just alleging generic harm was not enough.  We have blogged about this in the past.  In the cases I have had since that time, in order to successfully obtain grandparent visitation, you almost had to show that the grandparent took on a parental role for some period of time and/or was a constant presence in the child(rens) lives. 


Continue Reading Is the Standard in NJ to Get Grandparent Visitation Going to Get Easier?

Oftentimes in typical family life, circumstances unfold between grandparents and their children that result in a "cutting of ties," so to speak, where contact ceases not only with the children, but with grandchildren as well.  By that time, grandparents have commonly formed loving ties and bonds with the grandchildren that are at a risk of breaking due to the conflict with the parents.  What are a grandparents’ rights to have visitation with the grandchildren in such a situation?  The answer can be found in New Jersey’s Grandparent Visitation Statute, N.J.S.A. 9:2-7.1, which imposes a difficult burden upon the grandparents to establish a right to visitation because the grandparent is essentially seeking to intrude upon the overwhelming strength of a parent’s fundamental, constitutional right to raise their children.   


Continue Reading Grandparents Face a Steep Burden in Seeking Visitation