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The unique bond grandparents share with their grandchildren is one that courts recognize in many cases should be respected and nurtured. Of course, the courts also give tend to give parents the benefit of the doubt in deciding which relationships are in the best interest of their own children.

In cases where there are disputes regarding whether a grandparent should be granted access/time with a child, the court allows grandparents to petition the court for visitation or even custody of that child. However, they must first have the “standing” to do so. What this means is certain requirements must be met before a grandparent can make such an assertion.

A grandparent has standing to request custody or visitation if:

  • Either or both of child’s parents are deceased
  • Other extraordinary circumstances would justify the court’s intervention

One of the most common examples of an “extraordinary circumstance” would be a parent who has voluntarily or relinquished control or custody of the child to the grandparent for at least two years, during which time the child lived almost exclusively with the grandparent. Other examples might include the mental or physical unfitness of one or both parents or parental abandonment.

Our Brooklyn family law attorneys want to stress that neither will automatically grant grandparent visitation; they simply allow the grandparent the right to have their case heard in court.

The deciding factor in these, as in other types of family law cases, is the best interests of the child.

The burden of proof rests squarely on the shoulders of the grandparent, who has to prove the visitation and/or custody arrangement is best for the child. It’s also up to the grandparent to overcome any reservations of the court created by parental objections to the move.

These are difficult hurdles, and if you are going to attempt them – as in many cases it is in the best interest of the child to do – you must have an experienced family attorney handling your case.

Bear in mind animosity between grandparent and parent could have a negative impact on your case, as it could be deemed harmful to the child. This means it’s best to maintain at least a cordial relationship to the child’s parent(s) whenever possible.

Recently in the case of Luft v. Luft, a grandparent was successful in securing grandparent visitation from the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department.

According to court records, mother appealed the family court’s ruling to allow grandparent visitation by challenging the court’s finding of grandparent standing based on the nature and extent of the grandparent-grandchild relationship. Mother argued child did not have a meaningful relationship with his grandmother sufficient to warrant the action.

The appellate court disagreed and affirmed the family court’s order. Appellate panel specifically noted the consistent efforts of paternal grandmother’s efforts to establish and maintain a relationship with the child. This warranted her standing to bring the petition, and the family court did not abuse its discretion in granting her request, as it was in the bests interest of the child.

The mother’s argument, the court ruled, were without merit.

This case reveals grandparents can be successful. We are dedicated to fighting for your right to preserve your relationship with those you love.

If you are pursuing child visitation in New York City, call our offices at (718) 864-2011.

Additional Resources:

Luft v. Luft, Dec. 10, 2014, New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department

More Blog Entries:

Wallace v. Wallace – On Calculating Child Support in New York, Dec. 22, 2014, Brooklyn Family Law Attorney Blog