Grandparent Visitation in New York: Do a Child’s Expressed Desires Weigh into the Court’s Decision?

In a previous post, we considered a situation in which the grandparents of a child or children sought visitation when the custodial parent was opposed to such visitation. This week, we consider a related, although slightly different situation in which the children themselves have expressed a desire for the court not to order grandparent visitation.As was the case in the previous post, section 72 of the New York Domestic Relations Law and Section 651 of the Family Court Act govern court-ordered grandparent visitation. Under section 72, grandparents who can establish that “circumstances show that conditions exist which equity would see fit to intervene” may obtain visitation rights.

While the issue of grandparent visitation can be a complex one, it is governed by a simple principle; as is the case in most New York child custody and visitation matters, courts will do what is in the best interest of the children. Of course, the expressed desires of a child may come into play when determining what is in a child’s best interests, although that will not always be the case.

Courts tend to give more weight to the expressed desires of older children who are capable of making their own reasoned decisions and less susceptible to a parent’s efforts to subvert a grandparent’s attempt at obtaining visitation rights. This brings up an important point that often comes into play in grandparent visitation cases:  animosity between the custodial parent and the grandparents seeking visitation.

In a landmark case discussing grandparent visitation, the court noted that, “in cases where grandparents must use legal procedures to obtain visitation rights, some degree of animosity exists between them and the party having custody of the child or children.” Thus, courts acknowledge that a custodial parent’s animosity may influence a child’s expressed wishes. That being the case, a child’s expressed desires are only one factor the courts will consider when making a determination regarding grandparent custody.

There are less cases weighing in on the matter than custody cases between parents, but courts have provided some guidance on the factors that come into play in these situations, including:

  • whether the grandparents have had a positive and nurturing relationship with the child in the past;
  • whether the grandparents have, at any time in the child’s life, acted as the primary caregivers;
  • whether there is a documented history of conflict between the parents and grandparents that may negatively affect the child; and
  • the likely impact on the child of allowing or disallowing grandparent visitation.

Are You Seeking Visitation Rights for Your Grandchildren?

If you are currently seeking visitation rights to see your grandchildren, and you are running into problems from the custodial parent, contact the Law and Mediation Office of Darren M. Shapiro. Attorney Shapiro has extensive experience representing parties, including grandparents, seeking to establish visitation rights in New York child visitation cases. Attorney Shapiro understands how emotionally charged these cases can be, and he takes care to ensure that his clients are kept apprised of their case throughout the process. To learn more, call 516-333-6555 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation with Attorney Shapiro.

More Blog Posts:

Can a New York Family Court Judge Order Grandparent Visitation?, Long Island Family Law and Mediation Blog, May 31, 2018

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

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