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Rights of grandparents to visitation or custody in New York

The separation, divorce or death of a parent not only impacts the couple and children involved, but the grandparents as well. This may be particularly true, especially if the surviving or custodial parent's relationship with the grandparents is estranged.

Under New York law, grandparents have the right to request court ordered visitation with grandchildren in certain circumstances. One such situation occurs when either one or both parents die. A grandparent may be able to gain visitation if he or she can demonstrate they have a "substantial existing relationship" with the grandchild.

Another instance in which a grandparent may be able to gain visitation is one in which it can be shown that the parents have made attempts to interfere with the maintenance or establishment of a relationship between the grandparent and grandchild. This is a right only applicable to biological or adoptive grandparents.

The grandparent requesting visitation has the burden of proof of demonstrating to the court that the visits would be in the best interest of the child. In cases in which one or both parents has died, the court will grant visitation automatically.

Factors considered by a judge when granting grandparents visitation rights include what the parental preferences are, whether there is any animosity between the parents and grandparents, the age of the child and the child's preferences. The distance between the child's home and the grandparent's is also considered as well.

Additionally, the grandparent's mental and fitness are also both taken into consideration. Emotional ties between the grandparents, child and his or her parents as well as their parenting skills are also weighed by the judge in arriving at a decision as well.

In cases in which a child has been adopted, the biological grandparents may still get visitation rights, especially if the court believes it is in the best interest of the child. Grandparents can gain custody or guardianship of a grandchild in cases of parental abandonment or severe neglect as well.

Before rendering a final decision on grandparent visitation or custody, an attorney is assigned to represent the child and his or her interests. If you wish to exercise your grandparents' rights, the advice of an experienced New York family attorney can prove very beneficial.

Source: divorcenet.com, "Do grandparents have visitation rights in New York?," Zoe Garvin, accessed Feb. 10, 2017

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