Grandparent Rights

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The connection between grandparents and their grandchildren carries a level of significance that is truly unmatched. However, when a parent interferes with this connection, the question arises: do grandparents possess visitation rights?

Exploring Grandparent Visitation Rights in New York:

New York state law doesn’t explicitly grant visitation rights to just anyone. However, pursuant to Domestic Relations Law § 72, grandparents have a legal right to visitation – or even custody – if their circumstances meets a specific criteria.

Legal Rights of Grandparents to Visitation:

While grandparents’ visitation rights may not rival those of biological or adopted parents, they can petition for visitation, even when the parents are unmarried, divorced, or one parent has passed. Certain circumstances, such as where one parent is deceased, automatically grants legal standing for grandparent visitation requests.

While not an automatic right, grandparents have standing to petition the court when extraordinary circumstances exist, acknowledging the established and vital role they often play in a child’s life. In cases where natural parents are alive, evidence of an existing relationship or proof of deliberate prevention by the parent or guardian is required.

Initiating the Legal Process:

Grandparents pursuing legal visitation rights initiate the process by filing a petition in the relevant New York county court. The petition outlines the basis for their request, including the nature of the relationship, alleged interference, and the proposed visitation schedule. The petition is then served on both parents (even if one parent does not have custody of the child).

Navigating Parental Opposition:

Parents have a fundamental right to decide what’s best for their child, thus New York courts must weigh the established grandparent relationship against the nature of the parental objections. Despite a parent’s opposition, the courts acknowledge the benefits of a grandchild’s connection with their grandparents, considering factors such as: childcare, education, developmental activities, and emotional support.

Animosity alone is not sufficient grounds to be granted court-ordered visitation. The court considers the parents’ preferences while balancing factors like family structure, living situation, and the extent of the existing relationship between the child and their grandparents.

Grandparents have the Burden of Proof:

Once a grandparent meets the criteria to petition the court for visitation, they shoulder the burden of proving that visitation is in the child’s best interest. Courts consider various factors, including the child’s age, wishes, distance between locations, mental and physical health, and the existing relationship between the grandparent, child, and parents. It is not enough to simply establish that the child and grandparent had a previous relationship, it must be shown that re-establishing that relationship is in the best interest of the child.

For grandparents inquiring about visitation rights in New York, consulting a knowledgeable family law attorney is vital. The attorneys at Picarello & Saciolo, PLLC assess individual situations, recommend appropriate courses of action, file necessary petitions, provide required notices, and advocate for grandparents in court. Such guidance ensures a comprehensive and effective approach to navigating the complexities of seeking visitation rights with grandchildren in New York. Contact us and arrange to speak with an attorney about the rights of grandparents to visitation with their grandchildren in New York.

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