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Court Decides Grandparent Custody Case



The subject children lived with the petitioner, their maternal grandmother, intermittently for the first 2 1/4 years and 1 1/4 years of their lives, respectively. After the Administration for Children’s Services filed a petition in a separate matter alleging neglect against the children’s mother, the children were placed with the petitioner on March 1, 2002. However, on March 6 or 8, 2002, the children, who were then 2 1/4 years old and 1 1/4 years old, respectively, were removed from the petitioner’s custody due to the condition of the petitioner’s home. On December 2, 2002, the children were placed with their paternal grandmother, the respondent who was subsequently designated the children’s foster parent and adoptive resource, and they have resided with her since that time.

The petitioner testified that, after the children were removed from her home, she usually visited them approximately once or twice per week until the mother’s parental rights were terminated pursuant to an order of the Family Court. While a finding of fact made by the Family Court during the proceeding to terminate the mother’s parental rights suggests that the petitioner only accompanied the mother to nine of the mother’s scheduled agency visitations with the children, the record reveals that the petitioner had several other visits with the children. The petitioner further testified that she contacted the respondent directly several times to request visitation, but the respondent refused her request.

The petitioner filed the instant petition on May 7, 2007, seeking grandparent visitation rights.

In considering whether a grandparent has standing to petition for grandparent visitation rights based upon circumstances showing that conditions exist which equity would see fit to intervene, an essential part of the inquiry is the nature and extent of the grandparent-grandchild relationship. In cases where such a relationship has been frustrated by the parent, the grandparent must make a sufficient effort to establish one, so that the court perceives it as one deserving the court’s intervention. In ascertaining the sufficiency of the grandparent’s efforts, what is required of grandparents must always be measured against what they could reasonably have done under the circumstances. In addition to these considerations, the nature and basis of the parents’ objection to visitation are among the several circumstances which should be considered by courts deciding the standing question.

Here, where it is another grandparent who allegedly frustrated the petitioner’s relationship with the grandchildren, the petitioner established that, in addition to the bond she formed with the subject children when they lived with her during the first years of their lives, she also made a sustained and concerted effort to maintain contact with them, which was sufficient to confer standing to seek grandparent visitation. Moreover, the record is devoid of any indication as to the nature and basis of the respondent’s objection to visitation.

Therefore, the Family Court improvidently exercised its discretion in concluding that the petitioner was without standing to seek visitation. Accordingly, the matter must be remitted to the Family Court for a hearing on the issue of whether an award of grandparent visitation to the petitioner would be in the best interests of the grandchildren.

An appeal was made by the Administration for Child Services to recall and vacate a decision and order on motion which dismissed an appeal from an order of the Family Court to reinstate the appeal, to consolidate the appeal with appeals from four orders of the same court and for poor person relief. Separate motion is made by the appellant for poor person relief and for the assignment of a female lawyer as counsel.

Upon the papers filed in support of the motions and no papers having been filed in opposition or in relation thereto, it is ordered that the branch of the motion which is to recall and vacate the decision and order and to reinstate the appeal from the order is granted. It is further ordered that the branch of the motion which is to consolidate the appeals is granted to the extent that the appeals from the five orders of the Family Court are consolidated, and that branch of the motion is otherwise denied. On the Court’s own motion, the appeals from the five orders of the Family Court shall be heard together with the appeal from the order of the Supreme Court and shall be argued or submitted on the same day. The branch of the motion which is for poor person relief is granted.

Grandparents are the next person who could act as parents to children. If you want to fight for your grandchildren’s custody, you can ask the help of the Kings County Family Lawyer together with the Kings County Custody Attorney or the Kings County Visitation Lawyer from Stephen Bilkis and Associates.

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