Grandparents’ rights in New York are often a complex and delicate topic as grandparents frequently desire to maintain relationships with their grandchildren in spite of the wishes of the child’s parents.  New York State law allows grandparents to file for custody and visitation rights of their grandchildren, as set forth in Domestic Relations Law § 72 “Visitation rights or custody in respect to certain infant grandchildren.”  At the Law Office of Louis L. Sternberg, P.C., we are your experienced Suffolk County Grandparents Rights lawyer, fighting for you and your rightful visitation with grandchildren. 

Suffolk County Grandparents Rights Attorney

Fighting to Establish Grandparents’ Rights on Long Island

The law provides that parents generally have a superior right of custody of their children over any non-parent.  That superior right is not unfettered and third parties, including grandparents, may have visitation and even grandparent custody rights.  If you are a grandparent and want to explore seeking custody or grandparent visitation, the first step is to understand your rights as a grandparent in New York.  The Law Office of Louis L. Sternberg, P.C. is here to help.  Grandparents have the legal right to file for visitation of grandchildren in New York and, after making a sufficient showing, the Court will consider whether such visitation is in the best interests of the child.   New York Family Courts will consider such grandparent visitation cases and may grant grandparent visitation, regardless of the objections of the parents.

Can Parents Keep Their Kids Away from Grandparents?

Parents generally can decide whether their children have contact with grandparents, as the parents have the primary legal authority and responsibility to make decisions concerning the upbringing, care, and control of their children. This includes with whom their children should have relationships.  In New York, parents can keep their kids away from grandparents unless there is a court order that grants the Grandparents visitation.  Indeed, a parent’s superior right to care and custody of their children is not merely New York State law but it has also been confirmed by the United States Supreme Court in Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000).

Can a Parent Deny a Grandparent Visitation in NY?

New York State law recognizes the importance of grandparents in the lives of their grandchildren.  In fact, New York State’s grandparent visitation laws are some of the most favorable to the grandparents in the United States.  However, unless and until an order is entered granting grandparent access, a parent can deny grandparent visitation. Once an order of grandparent visitation is entered, the parent must allow the grandparents to have visitation with the grandchildren or the parent risks being held in contempt of court and potentially incarcerated. 

What are Grandparent Rights in New York?

The term “grandparent rights” generally refers to the rights of a grandparent to file for custody or visitation of their grandchildren.  In New York, those rights are generally guided by in Domestic Relations Law § 72 and caselaw interpreting this statute.  It must be understood that while these rights are recognized because of the potential importance of maintaining the bond between grandparents and grandchildren, these rights are not absolute and are always considered in the context of what is in the best interests of the child.

How Do I File for Grandparent Rights and Visitation in NY?

Filing for grandparent rights and visitation in New York first requires the submission of a petition to the Family Court in the county where the grandchildren reside.  As set forth in Domestic Relations Law § 72 (1), a grandparent may seek visitation when:

  1. One or both of the child’s parents are deceased, or
  2. Where circumstances show that conditions exist which equity would see fit to intervene.

These requirements are known as “standing” and must first be established before the court can consider whether the best interests of the child warrant an award of visitation to the grandparents.  This second prong (conditions exist which equity would see fit to intervene) is usually established by a showing of a substantial ongoing relationship with the grandchild. 

How Do You Win Grandparents Rights in NY?

This process of petitioning for grandparent visitation can be daunting in light of the harsh requirements in proving standing and the evidence required to establish the petition.  Louis L. Sternberg, Esq. and his team simplify this process for clients, ensuring that their grandparent visitation petitions clearly articulate the depth of their relationships with their grandchildren and the positive contributions they have made – and can continue to make – in the lives of their grandchildren.

Can You Fight to See Your Grandchildren?

Absolutely yes. The New York State Domestic Relations Law provides mechanisms for grandparents to fight for visitation rights and, in some cases, custody of their grandchildren.  As with any lawsuit, the key is presenting a compelling case that visitation by the grandparent is in the best interest of the child. At the Law Office of Louis L. Sternberg, P.C., we are experts in establishing the requirement of standing in grandparents rights cases and constructing compelling arguments, supported by evidence and legal precedents, to effectively advocate for the rights of grandparents.  Our team has a track record of success in fighting for grandparents rights in Suffolk County and throughout Long Island. 

Can I Sue My Son for Not Letting Me See My Grandkids?

The legal route to resolve grandparents’ rights disputes in New York involves the filing a visitation petition rather than suing in the for monetary damages in the traditional sense.   When an order has been entered allowing for grandparent rights in New York and when the grandparent is denied visitation with the child, that grandparent can file a motion for enforcement or contempt against the parent.  If the grandparent succeeds, the court can punish the parent for denying the grandparent visitation and may potentially incarcerate the parent as a result.

Can Grandparents Sue for Custody in NY?

Grandparents can sue for custody but doing so can be exceedingly difficult.  Custody, as opposed to visitation, is usually a more complex and challenging legal battle, first requiring proof of extraordinary circumstances, illustratively, surrender, abandonment, persisting neglect, unfitness, and unfortunate or involuntary disruption of custody over an extended period of time.  This requirement is known as “standing” to pursue custody and was memorialized by the Court of Appeals case of Bennett v. Jeffreys.  Upon establishing standing, the Court will then have a hearing with regard to the best interests of the children to determine whether the grandparents should have custody.  Louis L. Sternberg, Esq. has a proven track record of success in grandparent custody cases in New York. 

What Happens During a Grandparents Visitation Case in New York?

In New York, a grandparent seeking visitation rights with their grandchild will file a petition, generally with the Family Court.

New York Grandparent Visitation Petition

First, the grandparent (or their attorney) must file a visitation petition in Family Court seeking visitation rights. This petition must detail their standing to seek visitation and the nature of the existing relationship between the grandparent and grandchild, as well as any other facts or circumstances that establish that grandparent visitation is in the best interest of the grandchild.

Serving the Petition

After the petition is filed, it must be formally served to the child’s parents or guardians. This notifies them that the grandparent is seeking visitation rights and gives them the opportunity to respond.

Proving Standing and Best Interests in Grandparent Visitation Cases

The first substantive inquiry is whether the grandparent has “standing” to request visitation. If standing is established (either by way of a hearing or on consent), the court will then determine whether granting visitation is in the best interest of the child, in consideration of various factors such as the nature of the relationship between the grandparent and the child, the wishes of the child (considering their age and maturity), and the reason the parent is opposing the visitation.

Grandparent Visitation Hearings

If the case cannot be resolved amicably, the court will hold an evidentiary hearing – first on standing and then, if standing is established, the best interests of the child. During this hearing, all parties (including an Attorney for the Child) can present evidence, including testimony from witnesses and documentary evidence.

Court’s Decision on Grandparent Visitation

After considering all evidence and testimony, the court will render a decision based on what it believes is in the best interest of the child. The court may grant visitation rights to the grandparents, specifying the frequency and duration of visits, or it may deny the petition if it believes that granting visitation is not in the child’s best interest.

Experienced Suffolk County Family Lawyer For Grandparents’ Rights

There is no legal requirement that a grandparent have a family law attorney when litigating a New York Grandparents Rights case but going through the process unrepresented is a dangerous endeavor. At the Law Office of Louis L. Sternberg, P.C., our Suffolk County grandparents’ rights attorneys focus on providing grandparents with the skillful legal representation they need to remain an integral part of their grandchildren’s lives.  Louis L. Sternberg is a respected Suffolk County Family Lawyer, and an accomplished Grandparents Visitation attorney. 

Suffolk County Grandparents Rights Attorney Free Consultation

Family relationships are never simple.  Relations between multiple generations can grow complex and potentially antagonistic.  When family relationships do become contentious, you need a recognized family law attorney by your side to litigate for your grandparents’ rights.  The Law Office of Louis L. Sternberg, P.C. is a top Suffolk County Grandparents Visitation lawyer specializing in grandparent visitation cases throughout Long Island.  Our experience and expertise make us your best asset in this complex and contentious litigation.  Contact us now for your free consultation on your grandparents rights case.