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Grandparents Rights in New York Law

The breakup of a family by death, divorce or desertion can have a very negative impact on the children. Sometimes the children are used as pawns and the parents having control will show their hostility by depriving the other parent and his or her parents of contact with the grandchildren.

Since this hurts not only the parents but also the grandparents, the New York State Legislature has recognized the emotional suffering of grandparents who are not allowed to see their grandchildren and the importance of such contact to the grandchildren. State laws have been passed to protect the rights of grandparents who are unreasonably denied the right to visit contact with their grandchildren.

New York State Family Courts have recognized that it is important for both the grandparents and grandchildren to have contact. The Family Court Judges have been very supportive of the right of grandparents to see and visit the children of their dead child. Grandparents, who are deprived of visitation by the surviving spouse, can go into Family Court for visitation.

In the case of a divorce, or breakup of an unmarried couple, the mother and father of the non-custodial parent have the legal right to go into Court and request visitation with their grandchildren. Irrespective of the wishes of the custodial parent, the Supreme Court can also order visitation with the grandparents unless there is objective evidence to show that visitation would be harmful to the children.

In either court, certain statutory requirements must be met in order to present a viable case. Mangi and Graham have been successful both gaining grandparent visitation rights and, in other cases defending parents who have just cause to deny such visitation.

The situation that causes the biggest problem for the Courts is when there is a still-married family of father, mother, and children, and the parents absolutely refuse to allow grandparents to have visitation with the grandchildren. In this case, the Court examines factors such as:

  1. The reasons that parents object to the grandparents visitation.
  2. The relationship of the grandparents and the grandchildren and what efforts the grandparents made to see the grandchildren before applying to the Court for visitation rights.
  3. The actions taken by the parents that interfere with the grandparents’ prior relationship with the grandchildren.

After the Court hears the evidence, it makes a decision based on the best interests of the children and not what is best for the parents and grandparents.

Clearly it is difficult for all parties to go to Court. However, grandparents who love their grandchildren and are being unreasonably deprived of contact may have no other option but to petition the Family Court to grant them visitation with their grandchildren. At Mangi and Graham, we will consult with you about your case, we will prepare and file the appropriate documents with the Court, and we will appear with you in Court every step of the way.

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