At the Colwell Law Group, we regularly hear from grandparents who are being denied visitation with their grandchildren. They are very upset, and they want to know what rights they have.

The truth is that the law is very convoluted when it comes to grandparents’ rights. Although you might have the ability to obtain visitation, you will need an experienced family lawyer by your side to guide you through this process.


Children benefit from time with their grandparents. However, New York also acknowledges that parents should be free to decide how to raise their children without interference from grandparents or others. To balance these interests, New York allows grandparents to request visitation only in certain circumstances:

  • Either or both parents are dead
  • There are special circumstances that would warrant intervention, such as a prior relationship between child and grandparent

If any of the above is true, you have standing to request visitation. But having standing does not mean you automatically get visitation.

Instead, a judge will still need to consider whether visitation is in the child’s best interests, which is the second step of the analysis. This test looks at a variety of factors, such as why the parents are denying visitation, the child’s wishes, and the extent of the grandparents’ relationship with the child. Grandparents always have the burden of showing that visitation is in the child’s best interests.

When parents are resistant to visitation, it can be very difficult for grandparents to convince a judge that visitation is necessary. This is why you need an experienced attorney’s assistance.


Sometimes, grandparents want to seek custody of their grandchild. Custody is very difficult for grandparents to obtain, just as it is for any non-parent, since the law presumes that it is in a child’s best interests for parents to have custody.

To even get a court to consider your petition you will need to show that extraordinary circumstances exist, such as:

  • The parents have relinquished the care and custody of the child to the grandparents for at least two years
  • The parents have abandoned the child
  • The parents are unfit, such as by having a mental illness or a drug addiction
  • The parents are unfit because they are abusive and a danger to the child

Once grandparents establish standing to ask for custody, they still must convince a judge that custody is in the grandchild’s best interest. The more you can show a loving relationship with the grandchild, the better your chances of receiving custody.

Contact Our Herkimer County Child Custody Attorneys Today

At the Colwell Law Group, we understand how important the grandparent-grandchild bond is. For that reason, we happily represent grandparents in visitation or custody proceedings. Although these cases are difficult for everyone involved, we do everything that we can to obtain a favorable result for our clients. You can be sure that we will pursue all avenues for obtaining visitation or custody of your beloved grandchildren.

For more information on how we can help, please contact us today and schedule an initial consultation.