Grandparent time when both parents say NO.

On June 13, 2017, the Michigan Court of appeals issued a published opinion on Grandparent time.  In the case of Geering v. King et. al., Mich. App. No. 335794, the trial court made a determination that the biological parents were unfit and that grandparent time was in the children’s best interest notwithstanding the biological parent’s objections.  The Michigan Court of Appeals reversed.


The parents of the minor children had four children and divorced in 2011.  Thereafter, the parents continued to fight relentlessly over the custody of the minor children with multiple hearings over the course of a few years.

The maternal grandparents complained that they were being excluded from their grandchildren lives and sought parenting time, as they were only allowed to see their grandchildren on a sporadic basis.  Despite their apparent hatred for one another and inability to agree on virtually every custody decision, the biological parents joined in objecting to the grandparent time request.

Grandparent time and the Constitutional right to parent

The Michigan Court of Appeals recognized that parents have a constitutionally protected right to make decisions about the care, custody, and management of their children, citing the Michigan Supreme Court in the case of In Re: Sanders, 495 Mich. 394 (2014).

However, the constitutionally protected right is not absolute.  If the state has a legitimate interest in protecting the moral, emotional, mental and physical welfare of the minor.

Grandparent time and “fit parent” contingency

The U.S. Constitution recognizes a presumption that a fit parent acts in the best interest of their children.  The United States Supreme Court in Troxel v. Granville, 530 US 57 (2000), defined a fit parent as a parent who “adequately cares for his or her children.” which led to the determination that Michigan’s old grandparent time statute was unconstitutional.  (See:  DeRose v. DeRose, 469 Mich. 320 (2003)).

The current Michigan grandparent time statute

The new Michigan law regarding grandparent time is found in MCL 722.27b.  In simple terms, grandparent time is awarded if denying the time creates a substantial risk of harm to the child’s mental, physical or emotional health.  (See.  MCL 722.27b(4)(b).)

In awarding grandparent time, the trial court in the Geering v. King case determined that the biological parents were not fit and that denying the time would create a substantial risk of harm.  The Michigan Court of Appeals reversed relying in part on the case of Brinkley v. Brinkley, 277 Mich. App 23 (2007)  which provided “. . . if two fit parents . . . both oppose visitation, their joint opposition effectively creates an irrebuttable presumption that denial of grandparent time will not create a substantial risk of harm.

The Michigan Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s award of grandparent time

In reversing the award of grandparent time, the Michigan Court of Appeals in the Geering v. King case concluded by stating:

“Our conclusion does not necessarily mean that we agree with the [biological parents] purported decision to largely exclude [the grandparents] from the children’s lives. . . However, parents have a constitutionally protected right to raise their children as they see fit. . .”

Grandparent time moving forward

The best protection to ensure grandparent time is to get along with one or both parents as a biological parents right to parent can make it very difficult for a court to award grandparent time over the objection of a parent.

About Findling Law

Findling Law, PLC – 414 W. 5th St. Royal Oak, Michigan 48067

Phone:+1 (248) 399-3300
After hours emergency?+1 (707) 968-7347


I have been exclusively practicing divorce and family law in Michigan for over two decades.  The attorneys at Findling Law all share the core value of practicing law to help people navigate change in their lives, without compromising principles.  We specialize in high socio-economic, high-profile and high-conflict cases, while also working with clients of all backgrounds. We recognize that the most important aspect of the practice of law is the application of the law to your specific circumstances.That is why we provide more free information on divorce and family law than any other Michigan law firm. We want to help you manage your situation. Allow our exceptional legal team to help you navigate the change in your life, without compromising principles.

By:  Daniel Findling

change custody


The fundamental right to parent

Child Custody in Michigan resource center with video

Child Custody in Michigan resource center with video

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

Call Now Button