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Grandparent’s Rights

Fighting for Grandparent’s Rights in Metro Detroit & Oakland County

Michigan law refers to the legal time granted to grandparents for spending with their grandchildren as “grandparenting time,” but not all grandparents have the ability to obtain grandparenting time. In order to ‘activate’ the grandparent custody laws, you must first establish one of the following:

  • That you have cared for the child (“provided an established custodial environment”) for at least one year prior to making the request,
  • That your grandchild is in the legal custody of someone other than one or both of their parents,
  • That your grandchild’s paternity has never been established, and their parents have never married or cohabitated,
  • That your child (must also be the parent of your grandchild) has died, or
  • That your grandchild’s parents have filed for and/or successfully obtained a divorce, annulment, or legal separation.

Most of the time, grandparents are able to simply talk to parents and come to a reasonable, informal conclusion about getting in on a little of that child custody. Grandparents tend to do well in those kinds of relaxed negotiations. But if the parent(s) are resistant to the idea (and one or more of the above conditions apply) you may have to hire a Grandparent’s Rights lawyer, go before a judge, and ask for an order granting you grandparenting time. This works almost exactly like a traditional custody agreement — you get the child to grandparent as you please on a predetermined schedule. (As much as Michigan wants to support grandparents rights, child custody laws are pretty rigid on how the scheduling part has to work.)

Experienced Grandparent's Rights Attorneys

If you are a grandparent and are having issues gaining custody, contact our family law firm so we can help you.

But it’s not easy to win the case for grandparent custody rights if the parents decide to oppose you. That’s because the state of Michigan assumes that a parent who has been deemed fit isn’t creating a “substantial risk of harm” to the child’s health or well-being by denying you. In order to win the case, you’re going to have to show that there is mental, physical, or emotional harm that could befall your grandchild if they are kept away from you. If you cannot show that potential harm, your case is dead in the water.

Even if you can show potential harm, the court must still determine whether or not it is in the child’s overall best interests to spend time with you. It may be the case that you can demonstrate potential harm, but that the potential harm of not spending time with you is outweighed by some other potential harm in spending time with you.

(Also, just to be clear, if a child is adopted by anyone other than a stepparent, your grandparental rights go out the window as part of the adoption.)