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Court Rules on Grandparent Visitation


A mother was awarded custody her son, when the couple divorced. The boy was only two years old at that time. Less than a year later, the mother died. The father immediately assumed custody of their son less than a month after her death. He filed a petition to change the decree to give him custody and this was granted about three months after, said a New York Family Lawyer. The order showed he had already remarried, and that he allows visitation for the maternal grandmother, with his child.

When the grandmother received the child for a visit, she asked a different court to award her temporary custody of the child. This was granted by the court and there was no order from the previous court to transfer jurisdiction to them. According to a New York City Custody Lawyer, a hearing took place to hear the father’s side. After the review and the testimony of the father, the custody was given to the father, and the court ordered that the child be delivered to him. Visitation was not included in the ruling.

The grandmother filed a motion to modify the divorce decree about a year later so she could have visitation rights. The court granted her those rights and said she can have the child for thirty hours a week in her home or anywhere else. If the parties are unable to agree on the schedule, it was set to be from noon on Saturdays until six in the evening on Sundays. A New York City Visitation Lawyer mentioned as well that the court instructed both parties not to take the child outside their jurisdiction without their approval. Another two years passed before the grandmother filed another motion with the court against the father for contempt. She claimed that the father denied her visitation for the second week of February that year. In her petition, she said he announced his intention to deny her visitation in the future.

The allegations were not challenged by the father, rather his attorneys filed a response saying boy was already adopted by the father’s current wife. This was the reason the claims made by the grandmother is barred and cannot be enforced. They stated, the continuance of the visitation was just voluntary but the visits outside their home are proving to have negative effects to their child’s health and well being. This is why they want the visitation to be restricted to their house. They provided medical reports. The contempt was reversed, and was appealed. The Court of Appeals in their review said, the previous decree was not affected by the adoption, since the father did not follow it at the time he is in contempt. As for the future visitation, the contempt should not be needed as the parents, father and stepmother, can already determine the frequency of the visitation. They should not deprive the child of the benefit of being with his grandmother for whom he has a great affection for.

The parent of a child, natural or adoptive, has the same rights in deciding for the welfare of their child. This does not affect previous rulings to the natural parent for visitation. The court has always held that the best interest of the child is the priority.

Going though a divorce is never easy. At whatever stage of the process you find yourself in, it is important to ensure that your rights, and the rights of your child are protected at all times. Whether you are just initally filing for a divorce, require an order for protection, or have a custody dispute, it is important to consult with legal counsel as soon as possible.

Visitation of a non-parent is not always granted, nor is it always denied. Stephen Bilkis and Associates have experience and can give you with your options and help you determine where to go from there. We have offices in Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Manhattan to assist you. We also have offices on Long Island in Suffolk County and Nassau County and Westchester County, Long Island. Call us now at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW for a free consultation.

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