Grandparents' Rights Attorneys in Poughkeepsie
Discuss Your Case with a New York Family Lawyer
As a grandparent, you likely have a desire to have an ongoing relationship with your grandchildren and your children. Unfortunately, sometimes a divorce or other break within a family unit makes it difficult for children and their grandparents to remain connected. Fortunately, New York recognizes that grandparents have certain rights when it comes to maintaining a relationship with their grandchildren.
If you are a grandparent who has been denied access to your grandchild, Steven H. Klein & Associates may be able to help you. Our experienced Poughkeepsie family lawyers can inform you of your rights and can even help you fight for those rights in court.
Grandparents' Visitation Rights in New York
Grandparents in New York have the right to petition the court for visitation rights when:
- One or both parents die
- They have a significant relationship with their grandchild
- The child’s parents have interfered with their relationship with their grandchild
In general, two types of laws exist at the state level which impact visitation:
1) Restrictive - allows grandparents to seek visitation rights only if the parents have divorced or if one of both of the parents have passed away.
2) Permissive - a grandparent can request visitation even if both parents are alive or are still married.
As the law now stands in New York, you may petition the Family Court for visitation with your grandchildren IF the parent(s) are denying you or unfairly minimizing your contact. In order to prevail on your petition, there are two levels of proof you must present at trial. First, you must show that you have either played a regular role in the child’s life OR that you tried to play such a role, but were prevented by the parent(s) from doing so. Once you have demonstrated this, the question becomes what is in the best interest of the child(ren). As long as the role you have historically played was a positive one, the court will usually award visitation. The court will want to see, for example, that you have regularly sent (or tried to send) birthday and holiday cards and/or gifts.
However, in cases where the parents can show that the grandparent uses drugs, abuses alcohol or has engaged in abuse or neglect, the court will often deny visitation. Other questions of grandparental “misconduct” create a gray area and courts differ about what they will do in those circumstances. One common example is where the grandparent(s) are badmouthing or countermanding the parent. In such cases, the court will sometimes grant visitation, but with the caveat that such behavior will not be tolerated and will result in termination of the visitation rights.
Courts usually grant one or two days of visitation per month to prevailing grandparents. The Judge may also decide that the children may have periodic phone conversations with the kids. In at least one case, I was able to convince the Judge to award my client (a grandmother) one week of visitation each Summer, so she could take the children home to North Carolina to visit her son’s extended family. Her son had passed away, leaving her estranged daughter-in-law as the sole custodian of the children. Without this order, the mother had no intention of ever allowing the children to spend time with, or get to know, their father’s side of the family.
A few examples of how we can help you maintain or obtain grandparents' visitation rights include:
- Illustrating the positive influence you have on the grandchild
- Proving that you have an existing relationship with the grandchild
- Showing that the relationship with the child is beneficial
Poughkeepsie Family Lawyers Representing Grandparents
In the case that you are seeking custody due to tragic circumstances, you will need to illustrate why custodial rights should be given to you. This may be as a result of an unforeseen death or due to a parent being deemed unfit. Whatever your unique circumstances, you will need sophisticated legal assistance and our Poughkeepsie family lawyers are here to assist you.
Contact our firm today at (845) 203-2287 to set up an appointment for a free case consultation.