Divorce can be messy, even for grandparents. This life-altering change can take a toll on the grandparent-grandchild relationship, especially when a parent interferes with the coexistence of this connection. If this is the case, you may want to contact our divorce lawyer in Hicksville immediately. Before you do so, you might be questioning your legal rights to grandparent visitation and if you even have any, to begin with.
What is my legal right in the state of New York, and what is the law?
Compared to other states, New York’s law pertaining grandparent visitation is quite restrictive and follows the “best interests” doctrine. As a grandparent, you have a legal right to request court-ordered visitation when:
- One or both parents pass away.
- You have a considerable, existing relationship with your grandchild(ren).
- The child’s parents have impeded with your efforts to establish or maintain a relationship with your grandchild(ren).
This legal right only applies to biological or adoptive grandparents and does not extend to great-grandparents or other relatives such as aunts and uncles. If you are a grandparent seeking visitation rights, you are required the burden of proof, or the obligation to provide sufficient evidence — must prove your identity and provide documentation and testimony of your relationship with your grandchild(ren).
If one or both of the child’s parents have passed away, your request for visitation rights is automatic. If one or both of the parents are alive, you must prove to the judge that the child’s parent(s) is making it difficult to nurture or establish a relationship with your grandchild(ren). If you are unsure about where you fall, receive a free consultation from our divorce lawyer in Hicksville before setting up an appointment.
The two-part test
Above, we mentioned that New York follows the “best interests” doctrine — one of the factors the court puts into consideration. Simply put, the court will decide if the visit is in the best interest of the child and will consider all relevant factors such as:
- Child’s wishes.
- The morality of parents.
- Child’s emotional and physical needs.
- The motivation behind parent’s decision to limit grandparents visitation.
- The atmosphere of the home environment.
- Parent’s past behavior and conduct.
- Potential education opportunities for the child.
The second considering factor for grandparent visitation is determining whether there is a well-established, functional relationship between the grandparent and grandchild. If the parents deliberately prevented contact between the grandparent and grandchild, but the grandparents persisted to establish a relationship anyway, the court may find a relationship to exist. In the case the grandparents had custody of the grandchild before custody was returned to the parents, a strong pre-existing relationship may also be present.
If you are a biological or adoptive grandparent seeking legal help regarding grandparent visitation, contact Simonetti & Associates and speak with our divorce lawyer in Hicksville. Grandparent-grandchild relationships are just as important as parent-child relationships. Don’t let divorce get in the way of that special connection.