Do Grandparents Have Rights To Visitation?
They do, but not always. Although relevant case law and statutes reflect the critical role that grandparents often play in the lives of their grandchildren, grandparents are not automatically entitled to seek relief from court nor are they automatically entitled to an award of visitation. The determination is made on a case-by-case basis, contingent upon specific facts and circumstances concerning the status of the parents, of the children, as well as the relationship between the grandparents and the grandchildren. To better understand your rights, you should review the guidelines that emerge from case law and statutory law with Nassau County divorce attorney Jane K. Cristal, who will provide you with an understanding of grandparents’ rights cases.
Grandparents’ Rights: New York State Law
There are specific legal tests that determine whether you, as a grandparent, will have the right to bring an action to seek visitation rights with your grandchildren. In cases in which one or both parents are deceased, the grandparents will have the legal right to seek to have access to their grandchildren. In other cases, they also have standing to petition the court. Thereafter, they must prove to the court that as grandparents they have played a strong role in the lives of the subject grandchildren and that it is in the grandchildren’s best interests to continue the relationship.
When parents object to the grandparents having access to the grandchildren, upon seeking visitation rights, the grandparents must be ready for the court to examine their behavior as well as that of the parents. The court will be interested to learn why visitation is being denied in the first place, whether or not the grandparents made attempts to visit with and stay in touch with the grandchildren. The court may also make an inquiry into the effectiveness of the grandparent as a parent when raising their own children (the parents of the subject children). The court will also want to determine whether the relationship between the grandparents and the grandchildren would have flourished but for the acts of the parents who denied the grandparent’s access to the children. Essentially, to begin with, the parents (of the grandchildren) have the right to agree with or deny visitation to the grandparents. But once the matter is brought into court, the parent should have to make a showing that the grandparents are unfit and their renewed access to their children would be detrimental to them.
Grandparents concerned with securing their rights to maintain a relationship with their grandchildren should keep a log of all visits and experiences with their grandchildren. If their access is being diminished they should immediately start a log of their attempts to attain access to the grandchildren. Documenting your involvement in your grandchildren’s lives prior to the loss of access to them will be beneficial to you when seeking judicial intervention.
Contact a Nassau County grandparent rights lawyer at Jane K. Cristal, P.C., to discuss your rights to visit with your grandchildren. Determining your rights under the law and the potential for success in court is a vital first step.