New York City Grandparents’ Rights Attorney
Grandparents’ Rights Under New York Law
Although New York Domestic Relations Law gives grandparents the right to seek visitation with a minor grandchild, independently of their son or daughter (the parent of the child), they must overcome a strong public policy that allows parents to raise their children as they deem appropriate. There is a presumption that a fit parent will act in the best interests of his/her child.
If you are a grandparent seeking visitation with your grandchild, you need sound, experienced legal help to make a strong case in court. The burden is on the grandparents to prove that there are extraordinary circumstances and that visitation is in the best interests of the grandchild. Your lawyer will need to rebut the presumption that the parents’ decision to prevent grandparent/grandchild visitation is appropriate.
I’m Albie Myburgh and from my Midtown Manhattan law office I represent clients throughout the five boroughs of New York City. As a New York City grandparents’ rights attorney I can make a difference in your case.
When Grandparents Have a Right to Bring a Case to Court
The threshold for seeking grandparent visitation under the New York statute is to establish what is known as “standing” before the court. Where one or both of the parents of the child are deceased, or where circumstances require such relief, grandparents are justified in asking the courts to intervene by granting visitation rights. (The Court of Appeals has liberally defined “circumstances” as being “a sufficient existing relationship” between the grandparents and grandchild.)
If these provisions are met, grandparents have a right to come before the court to attempt to prove that visitation is in the best interest of the child. Once the court determines that the grandparent has “standing” to bring a case, a parent’s decision that visitation would not be in the child’s best interests is given no weight.
The judge may consider if the custodial parent has inappropriately tried to obstruct the relationship and may take that into account when determining what is in the child’s best interest.
Grandparents and Guardianship
It is increasingly common for grandparents to find themselves in a situation where they are called upon to act as a parent for a grandchild, because of the parent’s inability to care for the child due to illness, addiction or when parental rights have been terminated. In some cases, a pregnant teen may choose to have a grandparent — or another relative — act as the primary parent until the young parent is prepared to fulfill that role.
In these situations, it is imperative that grandparents have the legally enforceable right to make decisions on behalf of the child. This is necessary in order to enroll a child in school, to give consent to medical treatment or enroll the child in after-school programs or sports. For this you must be granted legal guardianship by the court.