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What to Know About Grandparent Visitation Rights in New York

In many cases, divorce affects more than the two spouses and their children. It can also have a significant impact on extended family members. In New York, grandparents may have a legal right to visitation in any of the following circumstances:

  • One or both parents passed away
  • The grandparent has had a substantial preexisting relationship with the grandchildren before a divorce occurred
  • The parents of the child previously interfered with the grandparents’ efforts to establish or maintain a substantial relationship

If you decide you will seek to enforce your visitation rights as a grandparent in court, you must be able to prove that such visits are in the best interests of the children in question.  However, prior to determining that the visits are in their best interests, you must first determine you have standing to seek visitation.

The court process

The process starts by showing that you have the legal grounds otherwise known as standing to file your request. Establishing standing is simple if one or both parents passed away. If that’s not the case, you must prove either of the two other factors listed above. Assuming you have standing to file a request, you can file your petition with the court in the county in which your grandchildren live.  Most commonly, these matters are filed in the Family Court.

Keep in mind that you may face some challenges in this process, as judges will always give significant weight to the parents’ preferences about who gets to spend time with their children. The judge will likely want to know more about why the parents object to the child having a relationship with their grandparents.

There are other factors the judge will consider when making his or her decision, including the structure of the family, the extent of a preexisting relationship with the grandparents, the age of the children, the children’s wishes (if they are old enough to have a mature opinion) and the physical and mental health of all parties.

For more information on grandparent rights, work with an experienced family law attorney at Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia, LLP.