In New York, guidelines and provisions that regard grandparent visitation are brief when compared to other states. The provisions are vague and the language is more legalistic than other states. Because grandparent’s rights in New York are so vague, it is imperative to seek guidance from a skilled family law attorney.
An individual who researches grandparents visitation rights in New York will notice a paradox. Many times, one attorney will claim New York awards grandparent visitation more than other states, and one attorney will claim that New York is among the the strictest states in regards to grandparent’s visitation rights.
In New York, grandparents must have standing grounds to sue for visitation rights. The law in New York states there are only two instances where grandparents may have legal standing. The first is a clear-cut and states a grandparent may be allowed visitation rights if one or both parents of the child have died. The other situation must prove visitation will be in the best interest of the child.
Grandparents are able to seek visitation rights when there are extraordinary circumstances that exist. One circumstance may include times when custody is disrupted. This would occur when parents voluntarily gave control and care of the child to the grandparents, and the grandparents cared from the child longer than 24 months. However, the court may find extraordinary circumstances that are valid even when the child lived with the grandparents for less than 24 months.
There are no other extraordinary circumstances mentioned in the law, but there are instances where the court will grant visitation to grandparents when parents are guilty of abuse or neglect.
With every state, visitation must be in the best interest of the child. However, New York does is not specific on how the best interest of the child is determined. Although there are factors that are included in other state laws that are not present in New York laws, it is assumed that the court recognizes the same factors when determining the best interests of the child.
If a grandparent wants to ask for visitation rights, they must provide a burden of proof, which is the responsibility to provide valid evidence. When one or both parents die, the visitation rights are automatic. If the child’s parents are living, then burden of proof must be provided.
With grandparents rights, judges will carefully consider the circumstances because visitation may go against parental preferences. The court will look at the child’s family structure and see if there is animosity between grandparents and parents of the child. When a grandparent establishes legal ground for requesting visitation rights, the following will be considered:
- The age of the child
- The wants of the child
- Physical and mental health of parents, grandparents, and children
- Past relationships
In addition, the court will also assign a child an attorney to represent the child’s best interest and speak on behalf of the child in court. When a grandparent files a petition, he or she will explain a proposed schedule for visitation (court-ordered time). Once a request has been filed, the parents will be notified of the request with a visitation order. There are instances when grandparents may want more time with their grandchildren or parents are preventing them from seeing the children, so grandparents can ask the court to modify the visitation order or enforce it if needed.
Grandparents rights in New York are complex, and it could be difficult for some to maintain their current schedules while filing for a visitation request. A reputable family law attorney can provide assistance by guiding grandparents through the process. If you are a grandparent and want to request for visitation, contact a New York grandparents rights lawyer today.