Grandparents’ visitation rights, under limited circumstances

Posted by Lauren S. CohenNov 12, 20170 Comments

New York grandparents can get court ordered visitation with their grandkids, but only under certain situations, or even uncertain situations. The statutory scheme allowing for a court to interfere in a parent's decision to not allow visitation is not overly clear.

However, just as children have rights in divorce situations between their parents, so may grandparents and kids have rights that take precedence when it comes to the grandparent-grandchild relationship.

Deceased parent

One way to be able to request a court consider issuing order for grandparent visitation is if at least one of the child's parents is deceased. If a grandparent cannot show that there is a deceased parent, then the grandparent will want to show extraordinary conditions that in the interests of equity would require the court to interfere in an impediment to grandparent visitation with grandchild.

Extraordinary situations and grandparent child rearing

The statute states that an example of an extraordinary condition that would allow the court to interfere in the situation to award grandparent visitation includes where the grandparent already had the child living with him or her, and cared for that child, for at least two years. Thus, this may involve the limited but not very uncommon situations where the parent left the child with the grandparent, so the grandparent would raise the children. During that two years, the parent must have forgone raising the child and relied on the grandparent to do so.

The best interest of the child

While the statute expressly notes the example above, the statute does not limit the possibilities to only where a grandparent has been raising the child for two years. However, it further requires that any grandparent visitation order must be in the best interest of the child.

Parents and grandparents can avoid litigation

The statute also allows the parties, such as a parent or both parents and the grandparent, to create their own agreement. There need not be extraordinary circumstance such as those that the statute requires to have the court make the decision. This provision allows parents and grandparents to come together, avoid protracted or stressful litigation, and hammer out a common-sense visitation schedule as they see fit.