Can a New York Family Court Judge Order Grandparent Visitation?

Most New York child visitation cases involve courts establishing the rights and obligations of the parents as they relate to each other. However, New York family law does contemplate a situation in which a court can order visitation for a child’s grandparents under certain situations. This may even be the case when the custodial parents are against the establishment of such visitation rights.

New York Domestic Relations Law Section 72

As a general matter, section 72 of the New York Domestic Relations Law provides that visitation or custody rights may be appropriate for the grandparents of certain minor children. Subsection 1 deals with visitation rights. This subsection begins by discussing the procedure in a situation in which one or both of the child’s parents have died.

However, this subsection also allows for courts to award visitation to the grandparents even in situations in which one or both of the parents are alive, if the court determines that “equity would see fit to intervene.” This second scenario presents a more interesting situation in which the parents of a child are still alive, and at least one parent is against the issuance of visitation rights to the grandparents. Of course, as is often the case in New York family law matters, the court must also determine that grandparent visitation would be in the best interest of the child.

As is often the case in issues of statutory interpretation, courts have been left to determine in which situations grandparents should be granted visitation rights. This requires courts to determine when “equity would see fit to intervene” in the parents’ rights to maintain control and influence over those with whom their children have relationships, as well as when awarding visitation to requesting grandparents would be in the best interest of the child.

While published decisions on grandparent visitation cases are less prevalent than parental visitation, there have been several cases that may provide some guidance. For example, in one case, the court allowed for paternal grandparent visitation in a situation in which the child was adopted by his non-biological father, and it was determined that the child would not have a relationship with his biological father. The court explained that the ability to maintain a relationship with his biological grandparents may lead to a discussion of the child’s adoptive relationship, which the court held was “not necessarily harmful to the child’s psychological development.” The court also based its decision on a finding that awarding the paternal grandparents visitation rights would not likely interfere with the child’s relationship with their adoptive father.

Are You Seeking Visitation with Your Grandchildren?

If you are currently in a New York child custody dispute involving your children or grandchildren, you should reach out to the dedicated New York family law attorneys at the Law and Mediation Offices of Darren M. Shapiro. Attorney Shapiro has extensive experience representing parties in a wide range of New York child visitation and custody issues, and he understands the lifelong implications these decisions carry. To learn more, call 516-333-6555 to schedule a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

DNA Testing in New York Paternity Cases, Long Island Family Law and Mediation Blog, May 11, 2018

Genetic Testing in New York Child Support Cases, Long Island Family Law and Mediation Blog, May 18, 2018

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