When Can Grandparents Exercise Their Rights Involving Grandchildren?
Where either or both parents of a minor child residing within this state are deceased, or where circumstances show conditions that merit intervention, a grandparent may apply to the court for visitation of their grandchild.
Not sure what this means for your situation? We encourage you to get in touch with us. We want to hear about your situation. And we want to learn what you want to accomplish. We are here to listen.
We are also here to provide solid legal advice. You can be confident that we will show you any options that may be available. We want to guide you down the right path and help you accomplish your goals. We want to maintain the bond between grandparent and grandchild.
What Conditions Must Be Met to Merit Intervention?
In many states, grandparents would have no more right to access children than a close friend of the family. However, New York State recognizes that grandparents form strong bonds with their grandchildren and disrupting that relationship would adversely affect the child. In all matters related to the children, the court will consider the welfare and best interests of the child first.
That being said, the burden of proof will be on the grandparents if they have to petition the court for visitation. In some cases, this happens because one parent wants a clean break from the other parent. Grandparents can often find themselves caught in the middle of this power struggle. But because New York State considers grandparents a major component of a child’s development, the court allows requests for visitation and grants them under certain circumstances.
Both Parents Are Deceased
If both parents are deceased your request to visit the child will be automatically accepted. There is no need to prove anything.
One or Both Parents Are Still Alive
It is usually in cases where a non-custodial parent has parents who want to have access to the children that they must fight a custodial parent for visitation. In this case, the court will grant a visitation hearing, but the burden of proof is on the grandparents to show the court that they should be granted access to the children. The grandparents must be able to show that either that:
- You had a strong relationship with the children before the divorce; or
- The custodial parent is rebuffing your attempts to establish a relationship with the child.
Even if one of these can be established, the parents of the child can argue that having a relationship with their grandparents is not in the child’s best interests. In this case, the grandparents would have to answer any accusations brought forth during this process. The custodial parent can argue other factors prevent establishing a relationship as well. This can include issues concerning family structure, that the children’s relationship with their grandparents isn’t as close as the grandparents claim, that the children don’t necessarily want a relationship with their grandparents, the children’s schedule does not permit such a relationship to exist, or that establishing a visitation schedule would put an undue burden on the parent.
What Will You Have to Prove to the Court?
In many cases, grandparents will have to show that:
- The children have some desire to see them (if they are mature enough to render a decision);
- They can accommodate the scheduling needs of the parent and not put an undue burden on them; and
- They have the mental and physical health required to supervise the children.
In other words, the grandparents must show that it is in the child’s best interests. In some cases, the grandparents will be forced into the position of proving that their past relationship with the children is strong enough to warrant everyone going out of their way to accommodate them.
While you, as a grandparent, and the child’s custodial parent will both generally have attorneys, the child will also be appointed an attorney whose job it is to represent the child’s interests during the proceeding.
Suing for Access to a Grandchild Is Complex
When grandparents are being denied access to their grandchildren by a custodial parent, the process can be emotionally gut-wrenching for the grandparents. You are essentially accusing the custodial parent of not acting in the children’s best interests by denying you access. Since you want this parent to accommodate your wishes and this would work better if they did so willingly, a cooperative approach to dispute resolution is often the most successful.
The Colwell Law Group, LLC has successfully resolved a number of these disputes in such a way that all parties walk away amicably and the children are the ones who come out on top. When litigation or court orders are required, we can advocate for your position to the family court judge.
We Want You to Tell Us About Your Grandchild Custody Situation
Do not give up before you discuss your situation with an experienced attorney. You may be surprised at the options you have available.
For a consultation about grandparents’ rights, call us today at 518-300-4487 or contact our office online to schedule an appointment with a New York visitation rights lawyer.