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Does Michigan family law address grandparents' rights?

You do not stop being a parent once your child becomes an adult, and in some ways the job may be even more emotionally draining. Dealing with the emotional aftermath of an adult child's divorce or death can be particularly difficult. This is especially true when your relationship with your grandchildren is compromised. Although Michigan family law does not automatically give grandparents rights, you might be able to secure visitation if it is in your grandchildren's best interests. 

Grandparent visitation is usually only applicable in a certain number of scenarios. For example, you cannot get visitation because you disagree with your child's parenting methods and want to spend more one-on-one time with a grandchild, but you could potentially assert visitation rights if your adult child is in a pending divorce. Other potential scenarios include: 

  • Your grandchild's parent has passed away. 
  • Your adult child is separated or divorced. 
  • Paternity has been established if your child was never married. 
  • Custody of your grandchildren was given to someone other than the parents. 
  • You provided a custodial environment sometime in the past year. 

You can cite any of the applicable above scenarios when filing a petition for visitation, but keep in mind that family law courts give significant autonomy to your grandchild's parents. In some situations, the parents can provide a signed affidavit opposing the visitation petition, which will likely lead to its dismissal. However, more common is when just one parent voices opposition after the death of their spouse or while going through a divorce or paternity action. 

Grandparents play important, formative roles in the lives of their grandchildren. It is understandable that you want to protect that relationship and your grandchild's well-being regardless of what else is going on in his or her life, but doing so can be difficult. When filing a visitation petition with the Michigan family law court, it is usually a good idea to work with an experienced attorney who can help face obstacles head on. 

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