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Grandparent Rights

Unlike other non-parents, grandparents have a statutory right to file a petition to have visits with their grandchildren.  This may become necessary in order to establish a relationship with a grandchild, to resume a relationship after a parent has cut off or thwarted the relationship, or where the parents are in a divorce or custody conflict that jeopardizes the grandparents' access. 

Grandparents are statutorily entitled to petition for visitation of their grandchildren.  In creating the statute, Legislature recognized the importance of the relationship between child and grandparent, recognizing that "‘[v]isits with a grandparent are often a precious part of a child’s experience and there are benefits which devolve upon the grandchild...which he cannot derive from any other relationship.’” Matter of Johansen v. Lanphear, 95 A.D.2d 973 (3rd Dept. 1983) (quoting Matter of Ehrlich v. Ressner, 55 A.D.2d 953).

 

Whether a grandparent is entitled to visits turns on a two-prong analysis.  First the grandparent must demonstrate "standing" or a legal ground for your request, such as where one or both parents is deceased, or where equitable circumstances exist.    Several factors are considered in determining whether equitable circumstances exist, including whether the grand parent has maintained substantial ongoing contact with the grandchild from the time of his/her birth until termination, the fact of parental objection, and the basis of the objection. It bears noting that animosity between grandparent and parent alone is insufficient to deny visitation.

Once standing is found to exist, the Court will then consider whether the visits are in the child(ren)'s best interests based upon consideration of factors such as the age of the child, the expressed preference of the child (although not dispositive), the distance between the proposed location of the visits and the child's home, the mental and physical health of the child, parents and grandparents, the existence and nature of the relationship between grandparent and child/parents. 

Grandparent access is not an automatic right.  Schedule a consultation with us today to understand your rights and the law.

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