Westchester County Grandparents’ Rights Lawyers
Helping Families Stay Together
divorce or family tragedy put your relationship with your grandchild in jeopardy?
If so, then you need to
understand your rights as a grandparent to visit your grandchildren. Unfortunately, New York is one of the most
restrictive states when it comes to grandparent visitation rights. In
2001, an appeals court ruled that the law which originally provided for
grandparent visitation was unconstitutional.
There are currently only two circumstances under which you may sue for
- If one of the parents is deceased; OR
- If circumstances make your intervention beneficial for the child.
It’s worth noting that, of those two conditions, one is very clear-cut
and the other is as broad as the law can get. The broad condition (if
circumstances make intervention necessary) includes situations where grandparents
have previously had long-term care or
custody of their grandchildren—at least 24 months. Parents who have been
abusive, neglectful, or absent create “extraordinary circumstances”
under which a grandparent may sue for visitation rights when their custody
lasted less than 24 months.
Visitation Rights Are Not Automatic for Grandparents
Note that “grandparents’ rights” in other states refer to
general visitation rights for non-parental relatives. In many New York courts, grandparents’
rights are limited exclusively to natural grandparents or grandparents-by-adoption.
Also note that
you have no legal right to visitation—you simply have the right to
sue for visitation.
Parents Have the Final Say
The distinction is small but meaningful—it means the court is under
no obligation to grant visitation rights to grandparents. In New York,
parents are the final authority on who is in their children’s life,
even if you disagree with the decision. Only the court can overrule the
parent's decision, which is where suing for visitation rights comes
There Is Hope—Call a Westchester Family Lawyer
New York law makes it incredibly difficult for grandparents to win visitation
rights. The burden of proof is on their shoulders, and “fit parents”
are presumed to be 100 correct in their decisions to cut off contact with
grandparents. However, that doesn’t mean your case is hopeless.
New York may be strict, but the courts
will still rule in grandparents’ favor… if you can prove that
your presence is in your grandchild’s best interests.
Our Westchester County divorce attorneys at Friedman & Friedman are
determined to help you strengthen your ties with your grandchild. We’ll
build a case that highlights every positive effect you have on your loved
one’s life, addresses the potential issues with the parent’s
decision to cut you off, and proves your visitation rights would be proper,
necessary, and beneficial.
Seeking grandparent visitation? Call (914) 873-4410 or
contact us online for a consultation with a family lawyer in Westchester County. We’ll
help you understand your options.