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Court Rules on Visitation Case


In September 1999, Frances Adrienne Sullivan gave birth to a son. A New York Family Lawyer said, after, she filed a paternity action against Landon Cole Sapp. This was to set custody, parental responsibility and child support for her son. By March 2001, the final decision was that Mr. Sapp was the natural father of the child. The parental responsibility was to be shared by both mother and father. The court said that the child should live with his mother, with the Mr. Sapp provided with reasonable access to his child. He was to pay child support, which he could also declare as an exemption for tax purposes for even numbered tax years and the odd number for Ms. Sullivan.

A few days after the decision, Ms. Sullivan asked the court for clarification of the dependent claim eligibility of each parent. Before this could be determined, Ms. Sullivan died in a car accident. Elizabeth Sullivan, the baby’s maternal grandmother, filed a Motion to Intervene and for the Award of Reasonable Visitation to Grandparent and was asking for a decision granting her the right to get involved in the paternity suit filed by her daughter. This is limited to certain situations and one of them is the death of a parent or both parents. To answer this, the father filed a motion to dismiss.

The lower courts ruled that the grandmother cannot intervene in the paternity suit because her daughter is already deceased, and the determination will not make a different as to can file for a dependent exemption. The visitation right was also dismissed. This was appealed by grandmother. The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the lower courts.

In their determination, the Supreme Court cited the case of Beagle vs. Beagle and Von Eiff. They said that the granting of visitation to grandparents is a violation to the privacy of the parent in rearing their child. Aside from the death of a parent or both parents, there should be an apparent reason to think the child’s best interest is to have the grandparent have visitation rights as he is too young. If there is an issue of the child being harmed, the court could also intervene in the decision of the parent in deciding what is best for the child. The Supreme Court says in this case, there is no need and no evidence to show harm.

A New York Order for Protection Lawyer is aware that a separation already affects a child’s familial stability and much more if a parent dies. The welfare of the child now needs support not only from the surviving parent but even from grandparents. The law supports this, and a good counsel will be able to present this well.

Whether you are a grandparent seeking visitation rights or a parent involved in a custody dispute, the law will have it covered. Stephen Bilkis and Associates have experienced legal counsel who will give you your options for the protection of your children’s rights and your rights for visitation or to prevent visitation as your decision as a parent. We have offices Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Manhattan in New York. We are in Suffolk County and Nassau County and in Westchester County in Long Island. We will provide you with legal assistance and make sure your children’s welfare is protected. For a free consultation, call us today at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW.

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