In New York State, grandparents have the right to petition for visitation with their grandchildren, but the circumstances in which they may do so are limited. The courts have established that the parental right to make decisions for their children is fundamental and must be protected, and that grandparent visitation rights may only be granted if it is in the best interests of the child. In the case of Matter of Best v. Best, 70 A.D.3d 986 (3d Dep’t 2010), the court considered the petition of grandparents who sought visitation with their grandchild, but were denied by the lower court.
In Matter of Best v. Best the grandparents sought visitation with their grandchild, who was born to their daughter out of wedlock. The daughter was initially granted sole custody of the child, but later shared custody with the child’s biological father. The grandparents had a close relationship with the child and had cared for her on numerous occasions, including overnight visits. However, when the relationship between the daughter and the child’s father deteriorated, the grandparents were cut off from contact with their grandchild.
The grandparents filed a petition seeking visitation rights, but the lower court denied their request. The court found that the grandparents did not have standing to petition for visitation because there was no showing that the child would be harmed if they were not granted visitation, and that granting visitation would interfere with the parents’ right to make decisions for their child.
The issue before the court in Matter of Best v. Best was whether the grandparents had standing to petition for visitation with their grandchild. Under New York law, a grandparent may petition for visitation with a grandchild if there are extraordinary circumstances that warrant the court’s intervention, and if the visitation is in the best interests of the child. However, the court has also recognized that parents have a fundamental right to make decisions for their children, and that the state’s role is limited to protecting the best interests of the child.
The court in Matter of Best v. Best considered the factors that are relevant to determining whether visitation with grandparents is in the best interests of the child. These factors include the nature and extent of the relationship between the grandparents and the child, the length of time the grandparents have been absent from the child’s life, the reasons for the parents’ objection to visitation, and the effect that visitation would have on the child’s relationship with their parents.
In this case, the court found that the grandparents did not have standing to petition for visitation because they failed to establish that there were extraordinary circumstances that would warrant the court’s intervention. The court noted that the grandparents had a close relationship with the child, but also found that they had not been significantly involved in the child’s life for a substantial period of time prior to their petition for visitation. Additionally, the court found that granting visitation would interfere with the parents’ fundamental right to make decisions for their child, and that there was no evidence that the child would suffer harm if visitation was not granted.
The decision in Matter of Best v. Best illustrates the complexity of the law surrounding grandparent visitation rights in New York State. It serves as an important reminder that grandparents’ rights to visitation are not absolute and must be balanced against the parents’ fundamental right to raise their children as they see fit. While New York law provides a framework for grandparents to seek visitation, it is a complex area of law that requires the expertise of a skilled New York family law lawyer who can guide grandparents through the legal process, help them understand their rights and options, and work to protect their relationship with their grandchildren. If you are a grandparent seeking visitation with your grandchild, contact a knowledgeable New York family law lawyer right away.