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Grandparents' Rights in New York

Legal questions involving grandparents and grandchildren often include one or more of the following factors:

  • Following a separation or divorce, the grandparents have difficulty seeing their grandchildren as often as they were accustomed to during the marriage or they have difficulty seeing them at all.
  • After one parent dies, the other parent cuts off contact with the in-laws, and grandparents wish to assert rights to continued contact.
  • Grandparents believe that their children are unfit parents because of drug or alcohol abuse or for other reasons, and wish for advice on how to become legal guardians of the grandchildren.

If You Are a Grandparent in Westchester County

The answers to your questions regarding "grandparents' rights" in your family will vary depending on your particular circumstances. The White Plains family law attorneys at Proto, Sachs & Brown, LLP are experienced and adept at helping grandparents discover and implement ways to protect bonds with their grandchildren.

If you are a grandparent and have been denied visitation with your grandchild for whatever reason, you have a legal remedy. Please call the New York Grandparents' Rights Lawyers at Proto, Sachs & Brown, LLP for a free initial consultation and we can provide you with the skilled and capable legal advice you deserve.

Are the Grandparents "The Problem?"

If, however, you are a parent who believes your child's grandparents are not a healthy influence and wish for advice on how to protect the children and your rights as a parent, call the New York family court lawyers at Proto, Sachs & Brown, LLP for a free initial consultationto discuss your legal rights.

New York Law and Grandparent Rights

Grandparent Visitation Rights

Pursuant to New York State Law grandparents have a right to petition the court to have visitation with their grandchild in two circumstances:

  • Either or both of the child's parents are dead, or
  • Circumstances justify the court's equitable intervention.

However, it very important for a grandparent to understand that even if either of the above circumstances exist it does not mean that the grandparent has an automatic right to visitation. Instead, it only gives a grandparent the right to ask the court for visitation. In the legal world this is called “standing”. If the court concludes that either one of the two circumstances exists then the court will deem that the grandparent has “standing” and therefore has the right to seek visitation with their grandchild.

At this juncture the court will consider granting visitation rights to the grandparents. In considering this issue the court will grant visitation rights to the grandparent of the court finds that granting visitation would be in the best interests of the child. In making this determination the court will consider many factors such as the nature and extent of the grandchild's prior relationship with the grandparents, the child’s wishes and the reasons why the parent opposes visitation.

Every grandparent must be aware that it is always the grandparent’s burden of establishing that visitation with their grandchild would be in the grandchild's best interests. This is why it is vital for a grandparent to consult with a skilled and experienced family court lawyer so that their rights as a grandparent are protected and so that they have the best chance at a successful outcome, especially when the stakes are so high.

Seeking Custody as a Grandparent

In circumstances where a grandparent is seeking to obtain custody of their grandchild it is very important for the grandparent to be aware that the court will always presume that the child’s best interest is served by their parent having custody and thus it is often extremely difficult for a grandparent, or any non-parent for that matter, to obtain custody rights paramount to a parent. However, if a grandparent can demonstrate to the court that "extraordinary circumstances" exist the grandparent may request the court to award them custody of their grandchild. Even if the grandparent can prove that extraordinary circumstances exist the court will not automatically grant them custody. Instead, when a grandparent establishes extraordinary circumstances this will only give the grandparent a right to ask the court for custody. The court will then make a determination if awarding custody to the grandparent is in the best interests of the child.

Examples of extraordinary circumstances include extended disruption of custody, defined as at least two consecutive years during which the parent has voluntarily relinquished the care and control of the child and the child has lived with the grandparent. They might also include a parent's abandonment of the child or physical or mental unfitness as a parent.

Getting Legal Help in Westchester County, NY

Our family law attorneys at Proto, Sachs & Brown, LLP are here to help you. With over 100 years of combined experience we bring the skill, knowledge and compassion that deliver results in Grandparent Visitation matters.

Our Westchester County family law attorneys have experience handling Grandparent Visitation matters in the courts throughout Westchester County, Rockland County, Dutchess County, Putnam County, Orange County, Bronx County and throughout the greater NYC metro area.

Schedule Your Free Initial Consultation

Whether you are a parent seeking to limit your child’s contact with a grandparent or you are a grandparent interested in seeking visitation or custody rights to a grandchild, you should consult with an experienced New York family lawyer. We are here to protect your rights.

Contact us online or by telephone at (914) 840-5104 to speak with an experienced family law attorney.

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