Grandparental Rights & Third Party Custody

There was a time in New Jersey where the public policy of the state was in favor of grandparental visitation. The United States Supreme Court in the matter of Troxel v. Granville, struck down as unconstitutional a Statute from the State of Washington permitting grandparent visitation, without restriction. Because parenthood is a protected right under the U.S. Constitution, the Supreme Court held that right was superior to the rights of the grandparents.

The first case in New Jersey after the Troxel decision was Moriarty v. Bradt, wherein our partner, Frank Donahue, represented the grandparents, who had participated in the rearing of their daughter’s two children. Following their daughter’s death, the children’s father placed severe restrictions on the grandparent’s visitation with their grandchildren. At the trial, Frank Donahue produced expert testimony that children take their identity from both parents. If one parent is excluded or portrayed in a poor light, that will impact the children’s self-worth and create problems later in life with relationships. Based on that testimony, the Judge found harm to the child and granted grandparent time to the grandparents.
The law in New Jersey was shaped by the Moriarty decision. That is, if the denial of reasonable visitation to grandparents is demonstrated harmful to the child, then the Court can grant visitation to the grandparent. Again, it is important to the litigant that the attorneys at Donahue Hagan Klein & Weisberg have the expertise to explain the impact of litigation between parents and grandparents on the children. It is equally important to explain to the parent or the grandparent their respective chances for success as compared to the expense of litigation. At Donahue Hagan Klein & Weisberg, the attorneys have the expertise and the motivation to give either parents or grandparents good advice for themselves and the children in these sensitive cases.

The attorneys at Donahue Hagan Klein & Weisberg are familiar with and have handled grandparental visitation matters both in behalf of parents and in behalf of grandparents. They are knowledgeable of the current decisional law and historical basis for it.

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