What Legal Rights do Grandparents Have?


Grandparents share a special and significant relationship with their grandchildren. Unfortunately, in some cases, grandparents do not always have the right to visit their grandchild, or in other cases, a grandparent might think the child would be better off if they had custody. Every state has it’s own laws regarding the legal rights of grandparents and child custody. However, in New York, grandparent visitation and custody rights are more restrictive in comparison.

Do Grandparents Have Custody and Visitation Rights?

New York’s law states that parents have a fundamental right to raise their children how they see fit, the court would only grant visitation or custody if doing so would be in the best interests of the child.

A grandparent or grandparents can seek visitation rights or custody if one of the following situations is present:

  • Either or both parents of a minor child are deceased
  • Conditions exist in which equity would see fit to intervene.
  • The grandparents can prove their relationship with their grandchild is of substantial quality

Only the child’s natural grandparents can request custody and visitation rights. This includes biological and adoptive grandparents. Great grandparents and other relatives like aunts and uncles do not have the right to seek custody.

What Does the Court Consider When Granting Visitation or Custody Rights

For grandparents to obtain visitation or custody rights, they will need to file a petition to the court. The first test is called standing i.e. Either or both parents of the child are deceased. 

Once standing is established the right of the grandparents to see the child will depend on the specific facts of the case i.e. equitable considerations. In New York courts, any decision must be in the best interests of the child(ren

Factors the court might look for when determining what is in the child’s best interest can include:

  • The grandparent’s relationship with the parents;
  • Caregiving role of grandparents;
  • Frequency and recency of contact with the child(ren)prior to the start of the action;.
  • The child’s wishes, if they are mature enough to state them
  • The mental and physical health of the parents, grandparents, and the child

How To Obtain Custody or Visitation Rights

The process of obtaining legal rights as a grandparent in New York can be complicated. Grandparents seeking custody or visitation need to seek out a New York child custody lawyer to determine if there is a case or not. The attorneys at Eiges & Orgel, PLLC will protect the best interests of grandparents and their grandchildren.

Contact Eiges & Orgel, PLLC at (347) 848-1850 to speak with an attorney about your rights.

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