You are a grandparent and love and enjoy your grandchildren, but now you no longer can visit with them…you want to know if you have a legal right to continue this special relationship.
Domestic Relations Law §72(1) states that where either or both of the parents of a minor child, residing within this state, is or are deceased, or where circumstances show that conditions exist which equity would see fit to intervene, a grandparent may apply to the Supreme or Family Court, and the Court, by order after due notice to the parent or any other person or party having the care, custody, and control of such child, to be given in such manner as the Court shall prescribe, may make such directions as the best interest of the child may require, for visitation rights for such grandparent in respect to that child.
In other words, when a Court is faced with a request from a grandparent requesting visitation, the first question is if that grandparent has “standing” as there is no automatic right for a grandparent to see their grandchild. For a grandparent to have standing the Court must find one of two things exist. First, if one of the two parents has passed away, then the grandparents will have standing. The other is a more of a “catch all” which states that equitable circumstances would dictate that the grandparents should at least be heard by the Court as to why they are entitled to have access to their grandchild.
In the circumstance where both parents are alive, the grandparents have a harder time establishing standing. In order to have standing when both parents are alive, the grandparent would have to show that equity or fairness dictate that they be heard in Court.
What does a grandparent need to show? Their best reason is to inform the Court that they have established a long and close bond with the grandchild. The fact that there is an acrimonious relationship between the parents and the grandparents is not enough to deny visitation. The key component is if a loving close relationship existed between the grandparent and the grandchild before the visitation was denied. That it would be in the best interest of the child to maintain the relationship. Even if you are able to establish standing, grandparents normally have a high hurdle to overcome in forcing visitation. The parental right to make decisions for their children and raise them in a manner they deem fit is paramount to raising children and will not be lightly disregarded. However, the concern of a Court is the best interest of the child as they cannot protect themselves. Therefore, you need to establish that it is in your grandchild’s best interest to maintain the relationship
Your case will depend on the facts and circumstances of your particular case. Assuming you have standing, preparing for the hearing is crucial. If you cannot amicably settle this matter, you must seek judicial intervention regarding grandparent visitation.