Case Contrasts Parent and Grandparent Rights in NJ
- January 20, 2014
- No comments
The NJ Superior Court Appellate Division case, Henry v. Zekovitch, contrasts and defines parent and grandparent visitation rights in this state. Linda Zerkovitch and Michael Henry got married in 2002. Two children were born of their marriage; one in 2003 and another in 2005. Linda filed for divorce in July of 2008 but her divorce was delayed because Michael was in active military service in another country and could not be served with the divorce complaint until February of 2010. Between 2008 and 2010, Linda and Michael’s parents, the Henrys, began to experience strained relations. This strain compelled the Henrys to file a complaint seeking grandparent visitation rights. In December of 2010, the Family Court issued an order granting the Henrys with weekend visitation rights as well as overnight visitation with the children on alternating Wednesdays. On March 2, 2011, Linda and Michael finalized a consensual final judgment of divorce which was signed by both parties. The judgment specified that the parents would have joint custody of the children and that Linda was permitted to relocate to California with the children. The judgment also included that Michael and the Henrys were to have liberal visitation with the children throughout the year. Later on, the relationship between Linda and the Henrys began to break down and Linda denied them their visitation opportunities. In March of 2012, the Henrys filed an application seeking the enforcement of their visitation rights under the divorce judgment. The Appellate Court found that grandparent visitation is a statutorily created right and as such is not equal to the Constitutional rights that extend to a parent. Therefore, a grandparent can only be given visitation rights if it is within the best interests of the children and/or if the grandparents can be declared to be the “psychological parents” pursuant to the reasoning set forth in J.M.S. v. J.W. Therefore, the Court remanded the case back to the lower court to determine the appropriate amount of visitation that should be awarded to the grandparents. If you anticipate that you will become involved in a dispute involving grandparent’s visitation rights it is critical that you seek out the advice of an experienced attorney before moving forward. For more information about grandparent’s rights, child custody, parenting time, divorce or other family law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes and in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney.