SB 5598 allows a relative, including but not limited to grandparents, the right to seek visitation with a child through the courts. The bill establishes set eligibility criteria for what qualifies a relative as: (a) The petitioner has an ongoing and substantial relationship with the child; (b) The petitioner is a relative of the child or a parent of the child; (c) The child is likely to suffer harm or a substantial risk of harm if visitation is denied; and (d) if the person and the child have had a relationship formed and sustained through interaction, companionship, and mutuality of interest and affection, without expectation of financial compensation, with substantial continuity for at least two years unless the child is under the age of two years, in which case there must be substantial continuity for at least half of the child's life, and with a shared expectation of and desire for an ongoing relationship. SB 5598 states that the child’s reasonable preference, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express a preference, should be taken into consideration by the court. The petition must be filed in the county where the child primarily resides. Additionally the bill outlines the rights of the petitioner at court hearings and the petition process.
Referred to Law and Justice, but was not scheduled for a hearing. This bill did not move out of its committee before the Policy Committee Cutoff date.