Grandparent Visitation

This information was provided by the Rural Law Center of New York and is re-published here with permission. LSED thanks the RLC for its generous contribution of content to our blog. Please visit the RLC website at www.rurallawcenter.org and for more information on grandparent visitation rights: http://www.rurallawcenter.org/docs/Grandparent%20Visitation%20Guide.pdf

In New York State, grandparents have the right to ask, by a petition, for visitation with their
grandchildren. However, while a grandparent has the right to ask the court for an order
granting them visitation, it does not mean that grandparent visitation will be granted.
So, before you petition the court you might try other avenues to gain visitation. Under U.S. law,
parents generally have a strong constitutional right to raise their children as they see fit.

Perhaps the best way to achieve visitation is to talk with the biological parents. Or, if that sort of conversation is difficult, you might try mediation. Every county in New York has a Court
approved mediation program, and in many counties, this is a free service.
If those avenues do not work, you can petition the court for Grandparent Visitation.

To be successful, a Grandparent Visitation Petition is written as a two step process.

STEP ONE: The first step is to show that the grandparent has “standing” to petition the court.
Standing means that the court recognizes that a person has met the criteria to go forward with an  action. Without “standing” the petition will be dismissed. There are a few ways to show
standing:

• If one of the parents is deceased, then a grandparent automatically has standing, and the
case can go forward; or
• If the grandparent has an existing good relationship with the grandchild; or
• Despite your efforts to try and have a positive relationship with your grandchild, the
natural parents have blocked your efforts.

STEP TWO: Only after you have shown, with proof to support it, that you have standing, the
second step is to show that it is in the child’s “best interest” to have visitation with you.
Some of the ways for your petition to demonstrate this “best interest” requirement are:

• To have the petition point out the positive ways that you have, or will have, connections
with your grandchild. For example, you might write about what you activities you do or will do with your grandchild. In this part of the petition you want to show the positive
relationship you have or will have. Generally, you should not take the opportunity to
bring up negative qualities of the parents.

David Shapiro, Esq. handles certain Grandparent’s Visitation petitions for LSED. Please call our general phone number for more information.

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