Third-Party Custody and Visitation

A custody/visitation dispute can extend beyond a parent versus parent scenario. In fact, Georgia law provides a means by which certain third-party relatives can seek to obtain a relationship with a child over either parent’s objection. Depending on their relationship to the child, these relatives can petition the court for visitation or even permanent custody.

Parent vs. Third-party relative-Visitation

Georgia law allows certain third party relatives (Grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts and uncles) the right to petition for and receive reasonable visitation rights with a child, even over a parent’s objection. This type of petition can only be filed when the parents of the minor child are separated, and the child is not living with both parents. In this type of case, a third party relative must establish that the health or welfare of the child would be harmed unless such visitation is granted and this visitation serves the best interests of the child.

It is important to note that adoption does not bar a third-party relative from petitioning for visitation. Even after a stepparent has adopted a child, the biological third party relatives (Grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts and uncles on the terminated parent’s side) may still file a petition for visitation with the minor child.

Parent vs. Third-party relative-Permanent Custody

According to Georgia law, third-party relatives have the right to seek permanent custody of a child. This right only extends to the following third-party relatives: siblings, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, great aunts, and great uncles. Thus, there is no right to custody if your relationship to the child falls outside of these parameters.

To succeed in this type of child custody case, the third party relative must show the court that allowing the parent to retain custody would be harmful to the child. After proving harm to the child, the third party relative must then show that granting custody to the relative would be in the best interests of that child.

Third party relatives often encounter obstacles in these types of cases because the court is required to presume that awarding child custody to a parent over a non-parent will serve the child’s best interests. Whether you are supporting this presumption or refuting it, the evidence is a key factor in the court’s determination. An experienced and zealous attorney can assist you in this area, gathering vital information and evidence that the Court will need to determine this issue.

This area of law is very complicated. Navigating the rights of the parent versus the rights of a third party relative is case specific and will require a thorough assessment of the facts and evidence in your case. If you have questions regarding third-party custody and would like to explore this issue in-depth, please contact B Bullard Law Firm today at 678-432-1100 or by email at Our firm has the experience necessary to assist you and your unique needs.

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