Michigan has a law that allows for grandparent visitation rights, and the law has been around since 2005, in an amended form. The law is a bit limited though, at least compared to what many grandparents hope. Still it can be a useful law for those with concerns about seeing their grandchildren.  And if you are already serving, or could serve as guardians of your grandchildren, other laws might apply.
But let’s just look at the Michigan law on grandparent visitation which is really part of Michigan’s larger child custody act.  (The mention of grandparents shows up especially in MCL 722.27, for instance, but that is just one section of a larger act surrounding child custody and visitation issues.)
The law in Michigan requires a two step analysis.
First, do the grandparents (or does a grandparent)  have standing to make the request in the first place?  Standing is important because it essentially means whether or not a court will even hear your request or consider your case.
Michigan, and many other states, have pretty limited rules regarding standing.  In Michigan, if you want to make a grandparent visitation request, you should be in one of the following situations:
–you have children of your own (a  parent of the grandchild) who are divorced or in the process of a divorce (or legal separation or annulment).
–the grandchild’s parent is deceased, but you are the parent to the dead grandchild’s mom or dad.
–your child never married and is not in the same household as the other parent of the grandchild but paternity is clear or established.
–your grandchild is being or is already placed outside their home and someone now has custody (such as foster care placement or the like).
–you have taken care of the grandchild so long, within the last year in your own place, so much so that a court might agree the real “established custodial environment” for the grandchild is with you anyway.
Second, if  you have standing, is it in the grandchild’s best interest that you have visitation?  To get that ball rolling   as described above, you petition the court for grandparent visitation and give notice to the interested other parties.
Michigan statutes and case law outline a number of factors, so that judges can decide whether such requests are in “the best interest of the child” or in this case, your  grandchild.
One part of Michigan law, (MCL 722.27b (6)) outlines those factors in this way:
(6) If the court finds that a grandparent has met the standard for rebutting the presumption described in subsection (4), the court shall consider whether it is in the best interests of the child to enter an order for grandparenting time. If the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that it is in the best interests of the child to enter a grandparenting time order, the court shall enter an order providing for reasonable grandparenting time of the child by the grandparent by general or specific terms and conditions. In determining the best interests of the child under this subsection, the court shall consider all of the following:
(a) The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the grandparent and the child.
(b) The length and quality of the prior relationship between the child and the grandparent, the role performed by the grandparent, and the existing emotional ties of the child to the grandparent.
(c) The grandparent’s moral fitness.
(d) The grandparent’s mental and physical health.
(e) The child’s reasonable preference, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express a preference.
(f) The effect on the child of hostility between the grandparent and the parent of the child.
(g) The willingness of the grandparent, except in the case of abuse or neglect, to encourage a close relationship between the child and the parent or parents of the child.
(h) Any history of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse or neglect of any child by the grandparent.
(i) Whether the parent’s decision to deny, or lack of an offer of, grandparenting time is related to the child’s well-being or is for some other unrelated reason.
(j) Any other factor relevant to the physical and psychological well-being of the child.
If you want to find out more about grandparenting time, feel free to call our office.  Next week will will have a blog entry about guardianship of grandchildren.