Family Lawyers in Westbury, NY Representing Grandparents, Parents and Children in Visitation Cases

A grandparent’s right to visit a grandchild in the face of opposition by a parent of that child is not absolute. New York law limits and restricts such visitation rights to grandparents whose factual circumstances fall within the parameters of a special statute. That statute is §72(1) of the Domestic Relations Law, which states:

“[w]here either or both of the parents of a minor child, residing within this state, is, or are deceased, or where circumstances show that conditions exist which equity would see fit to intervene a grandparent may apply to [supreme or family court] and … the court, by order after due notice to the parent or any other person or party having the care, custody, and control of such child, to be given in such manner as the court shall prescribe, may make such directions as the best interest of the child may require, for visitation rights for such grandparent or grandparents in respect to such child.”

Prior to the enactment of this statute, grandparents had no standing to assert visitation rights against a custodial parent. The statute arose from the humanitarian concern that visits with a grandparent are often a precious part of a child’s experience which he cannot derive from any other relationship. The statute cited above does not create an automatic right of visitation. What it does provide is a procedural mechanism for grandparents to acquire standing to seek visitation with a minor child. In grandparent visitation cases, the Court must undertake a two-part inquiry. First, the Court must find that the grandparents have the right (i.e. standing) to seek visitation based upon death or equitable circumstances. Once the Court has determined standing based on that inquiry, it must then decide whether or not such visitation is in the best interest of the grandchild. These are difficult cases. A court will not lightly intrude on the family relationship against a fit parent’s wishes. Drug use, incarceration absence, or other such factors may constitute equitable circumstances. The grandparents who are most often successful in gaining visitation are ones who can demonstrate a history of frequent interaction and a close relationship with the child. The New York Statute has been challenged in Court as unconstitutional, but has survived such challenge. At this time, all 50 states have some form of grandparent visitation statute. In addition, the federal Visitation Enforcement Rights Act of 1998 requires an order granting grandparent visitation in one state must be accorded full faith and credit in all other states. If you are seeking visitation as a grandparent, we urge you to contact us to book a consultation with one of our family lawyers in Westbury, NY. These cases require the services of attorneys experienced in such cases and who are familiar with the caselaw in New York. The attorneys at Mangi & Graham, LLP have represented grandparents, parents, and children in cases involving grandparent visitation.