n Georgia, under O.C.G.A. § 19-7-3, grandparents have the right to ask the court for visitation rights but they do not automatically have the right to actually visit their grandchildren. There are two ways for a grandparent to ask the court for visitation.
1. File a Petition for Visitation. A grandparent can file an original action in the form of a “Petition for Visitation” in the superior court. To file this type of action:
- there cannot be any other cases before the court that involve custody or visitation for the child,
- the legal parents (including adoptive parents) of the child must be separated or divorced (if the child is living with both parents, a grandparent cannot file a petition for visitation),
- a grandparent cannot file this type of action more than once every two years, and
- a grandparent cannot file this type of action in any year that another custody action has been filed regarding the child.
2. Join an Existing Case. A grandparent may get involved in an existing case for custody, visitation, divorce, or termination of parental rights.
In most situations, to win a visitation case, a grandparent must show the court, by clear and convincing evidence, two things:
1. The child's health or welfare would be harmed if the child could not visit the grandparent AND
- Visitation is in the child's best interests.
As far as the cost, you can handle it on your own if you desire and contact the clerk of court for the forms on Monday or retain legal counsel to help you, which could cost, depending on if they will handle this on a flat fee basis or what they will charge hourly.