Grandparents play an important role in the lives of their grandchildren. However, when a relationship between a grandparent and grandchild is severed due to the death of a parent or a parental dispute, the legal rights of the grandparent may be called into question. In New York, grandparents have limited legal rights to visitation or custody of their grandchildren.
Under New York’s Domestic Relations Law §72, grandparents have the right to petition for visitation rights with their grandchildren under certain circumstances, such as when one or both of the child’s parents have passed away, or when there is a significant breakdown in the relationship between the grandparent and the child’s parent(s). However, the grandparent must also show that it is in the child’s best interests to have visitation with them, and the court will consider a variety of factors in making this determination. Overall, the law seeks to balance the rights of the grandparents with the best interests of the child.
In Matter of E.S. v. P.D., the parties were the paternal grandmother and mother of a young child. The child’s father, who was the son of the grandmother, had passed away prior to the case. The grandmother sought visitation rights with the child, but the mother objected, arguing that the grandmother had previously been abusive to her son and that the child had no relationship with her. The grandmother filed a petition for visitation rights under New York’s Domestic Relations Law §72.
Under §72, grandparents may petition for visitation rights if there is a pre-existing relationship between the grandparent and the child, and if the child’s parents have denied or interfered with the grandparent’s visitation rights. The court must balance the best interests of the child with the rights of the parents to make decisions regarding their child’s upbringing.
In Matter of E.S. v. P.D., the court considered whether the grandmother had a pre-existing relationship with the child and whether it was in the child’s best interests to grant her visitation rights. The court found that although the grandmother had a relationship with the child, it was not significant enough to warrant court intervention. The court also noted that the child’s mother had not denied the grandmother’s visitation rights, as the grandmother had never requested visitation prior to filing the petition.
The court in Matter of E.S. v. P.D. reaffirmed the principle that parents have a fundamental right to make decisions regarding the upbringing of their children. Grandparents seeking visitation rights must show that they have a pre-existing relationship with the child and that visitation is in the child’s best interests. In cases where the grandparent’s relationship with the child is tenuous, courts may be reluctant to grant visitation rights.
Furthermore, grandparents seeking visitation rights may face an uphill battle in New York. The state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, has repeatedly held that parents have a fundamental right to make decisions regarding the upbringing of their children, and that this right should only be overridden in exceptional circumstances. As a result, grandparents seeking visitation rights in New York must present a strong case in order to overcome the presumption that parents know what is best for their children.
The issue of grandparent visitation rights is a complex and evolving area of New York family law. While grandparents may have a strong emotional attachment to their grandchildren, the legal rights of grandparents are limited. In order to successfully petition for visitation rights, grandparents must demonstrate that they have a pre-existing relationship with the child and that visitation is in the child’s best interests.
If you are a grandparent seeking visitation rights or if you are a parent facing a grandparent visitation petition, it is important to consult with an experienced New York family law lawyer who can help you navigate the complex legal landscape surrounding grandparent visitation rights and can work to protect your legal rights and interests.