Grandparents will only be given visitation against the wishes of a parent if they can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that such visitation is necessary to avoid harm to the child. Moriarty v. Bradt, 177 N.J. 84, 114-15 (2003).
New Jersey Statute 9:2-7.1. Visitation rights for grandparents or siblings
a. A grandparent or any sibling of a child residing in this State may make application before the Superior Court, in accordance with the Rules of Court, for an order for visitation. It shall be the burden of the applicant to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the granting of visitation is in the best interests of the child.
b. In making a determination on an application filed pursuant to this section, the court shall consider the following factors:
(1) The relationship between the child and the applicant;
(2) The relationship between each of the child’s parents or the person with whom the child is residing and the applicant;
(3) The time which has elapsed since the child last had contact with the applicant;
(4) The effect that such visitation will have on the relationship between the child and the child’s parents or the person with whom the child is residing;
(5) If the parents are divorced or separated, the time sharing arrangement which exists between the parents with regard to the child;
(6) The good faith of the applicant in filing the application;
(7) Any history of physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect by the applicant; and
(8) Any other factor relevant to the best interests of the child.
c. With regard to any application made pursuant to this section, it shall be prima facie evidence that visitation is in the child’s best interest if the applicant had, in the past, been a full-time caretaker for the child.
A Bill was introduced to the legislature on March 2, 2006 which would essentially repeal the above grandparent visitation statute. The Bill’s Statement describes its purpose as repealing N.J.S. 9:2-7.1 which allows a sibling or grandparent of a minor child to make an application in Superior Court for visitation rights.
To date, the bill has not been passed.