Grandparents can be wonderful influences in the lives of their grandchildren. They can provide unconditional love, support, advice, and so much more that will be treasured by their grandchildren for a lifetime. These bonds however, can be endangered when a grandchild’s parents divorce, one or both parents die, when the grandchild is adopted, or when the grandchild is removed from the parents’ home due to abuse or neglect.
If you’re a grandparent, you may be wondering, “Is there any way I can request visitation privileges or even custody of my grandchild?” Each state has enacted some type of law regarding grandparents’ rights, but the laws vary from state to state. In this article, we discuss grandparents’ rights in regard to visitation and child custody in New York.
Can I Ask for Visitation Privileges?
In New York, it is possible for a grandparent to be awarded visitation privileges of their grandchild under certain circumstances. If a grandparent is interested in asking for court-ordered visitation, one of the following criteria must be met:
- One or both parents have passed away;
- The grandparent had a substantial relationship with their grandchild; or
- The grandchild’s parents have been interfering with the grandparent’s efforts to have or maintain a relationship with their grandchild.
The right to seek visitation of a grandchild only applies to biological and adoptive grandparents. Great grandparents and other family members do not have the same right.
Meeting the Burden of Proof
If you wish to ask the family court for visitation, you will need to meet the burden of proof, meaning, you’ll have to prove to the court that it would be in your grandchild’s best interests to grant you visitation privileges.
If you establish that you have legal grounds to request visitation, the judge will consider a number of factors, such as the child’s age, the child’s wishes, the distance between the grandchild’s residence and where the visits will take place, your relationship with the child’s parents, etc.
In some states, a grandparent doesn’t have any rights if the grandchild is adopted, but that is not the case in New York. If your grandchild is adopted, you still have the right to ask the court for visitation privileges.
Can I Ask for Custody?
Generally, the only way a grandparent can ask for custody of a grandchild is if the biological parent has severely neglected or abandoned their child. If you further have questions about seeking visitation or custody of your grandchild, please contact our firm to speak with a family law attorney.Next: Losing Parental Rights in New York