Grandparents often contact me wanting a court order for grandparenting time. To the surprise of numerous grandparents, their legal rights are quite restrictive and rather difficult to obtain under Michigan law.
MCL 722.27b limits the circumstances under which a grandparent is eligible for court-ordered grandparenting time to the following:
1. If there is a pending action for divorce, separate maintenance or annulment between the child’s parents;
2. If the child’s parents are divorced, then a judgment of separate maintenance or annulment has been entered;
3. The child’s parent, who is a child of the grandparents, is deceased;
4. The child’s parents have never been married, they are not living together and paternity has been established;
5. A person other than the child’s parent is given legal custody of the child or the child has been placed outside of and does not reside in the parent’s home;
6. The grandparent provided an established custodial environment for the child the year prior to filing the action;
What are the next steps to determine grandparenting time?
If one of these six factors is met, then the analysis continues. If a fit parent makes a decision to deny the requested grandparenting time, the grandparent seeking the time must then prove to the Court that there is no substantial risk of harm to the child’s mental, physical, or emotional health. If the grandparent fails to prove there is no substantial risk of harm to the child, the court will deny the grandparent’s request. Further, the court may also deny the request if two fit parents sign an affidavit stating they both oppose an order for grandparenting time.
In the event a grandparent meets his/her burden, the analysis does not end. At that point, the Court must consider whether it is in the best interests of the child to enter an order for grandparenting time. MCL 722.27b(6) explains the 10 best interest factors.