You may have been told or have heard, “Grandparents have no rights in Michigan.” So, many have read the Supreme Court of Michigan’s DeRose decision of 2003 to mean just that. However, while the previous statement may feel very true following DeRose, it’s a bit of an exaggeration. It is true that DeRose and the subsequent amendments to Michigan’s grand parenting time statute were drastically changed and any rights most grandparents would have had previously are now all but rendered moot. It is extremely difficult for grandparents to be entitled to relief from the Courts. Despite the DeRose decision, there are still some grand parenting rights and remedies available to grandparents in very specific sets of circumstances.
Grandparents can be an integral part of growing up for any child. However, for some children grandparents can be more of a parental figure to them than their own parents. During this time, grandparents sometimes even serve as the legal guardians for young children. Often when the parents of these children ultimately would like to re-establish their parental responsibilities and parental bonds, guardianship’s can be terminated or if there is not a formal guardianship in place by a Probate Court, the grandparents are left without any rights to even visit with the children that they have been raising. Another common occurrence when grand parenting time might be in a question is when grandparents are left out of the lives of their grandchildren by the express will of the children’s parents.
Family law attorneys are often confronted with the question, “do I have any rights to see my grandchildren?” The question is not a simple one. Michigan law has extremely limited rights for grandparents. These rights are only available to grandparents that are in specific sets of circumstances. Unless your child is the biological parent of your grandchild and your child has become incarcerated incapacitated, or is now deceased, it is highly unlikely that you will have any rights to see your grandchildren without the permission of their parents.
However, in the event that you have established an environment that mimics that of the child’s parents over on appreciable period of time you may be entitled to some grandparenting time that would be ordered by a Family Court. What is important to remember about these types of claims is that the burden is on the grandparents to prove to the Court that it is in the best interests of the children to have the grandparenting time you are requesting. What makes this burden so difficult is that the grandparents are fighting against a presumption the Court is instructed to formulate prior to hearing any evidence. That presumption is that the parents’ decision to prohibit the grandparenting time is presumed to be what is best for the children. The grandparent’s evidence must overcome this presumption to be awarded grandparenting time. This is a very high burden to meet. Even though grandparenting time cases are particularly hard to be meritorious in, if you fall into these express categories you may have a claim that you would like to pursue. It is essential that you speak with a family law attorney to determine whether or not grandparenting time rights maybe available to you and your grandchildren. Without the assistance of an experienced family law attorney, your case will likely result in in unsatisfactory outcomes as these cases are very difficult to navigate without the experience and expertise of a family law attorney.
If you are curious about any rights you may have as a grandparent, or you are looking to pursue an action in the Family Court to establish grand parenting time with your grandchildren, please call our family law attorney today in discuss the merits of your potential case!
By Maria Panchenko