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Do New York Grandparents Have Visitation Rights with Their Grandchildren?

In many families, children grow up having a strong connection with their grandparents. Having a second or third set of adults around expands children’s horizons, provides them with additional emotional support, and can even give parents a needed break from childcare responsibilities. In some situations, however, one or both parents seek to deny grandparents the right to see their grandchildren. In New York, grandparents are sometimes able to enforce visitation or custody rights.

When determining whether to award grandparents visitation over the objection of a child’s parents, the court makes its determination based on what is in the best interests of the child. When grandparents are able to show that they have the financial and emotional resources to contribute to the child’s life, or that the child’s parents can’t provide a stable life, a court will often rule to allow visitation.

A second factor that New York courts consider is whether the child has a preexisting relationship with the grandparents. Courts are hesitant to thrust near-strangers into a child’s life. Instead, a court will look to see whether the grandparents have been part of the child’s life or at least have made efforts to become involved. Generally, a court will not penalize grandparents who repeatedly tried to create a relationship with the child but faced consistent opposition from the child’s parents. Grandparents who have previously had custody of the child are typically viewed as having a strong preexisting relationship.

New York grandparent custody rules do not apply to great-grandparents or step-grandparents. Only a child’s actual grandparents can ask a court to grant them visitation. In cases where one of the child’s parents has died, courts are likely to award visitation to the deceased person’s parents. Visits are often monthly, but other arrangements are possible. And in some cases when a child’s parent or parents cannot provide a stable or safe home, grandparents may be able to gain physical custody of their grandchild.

If you are a parent or grandparent involved in a dispute over grandparents’ visitation or custody rights, the compassionate visitation attorneys at Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia have the experience to help you seek an optimal resolution. We serve clients throughout New York City’s five boroughs.

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