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As an experienced Long Island Divorce Lawyer, I have seen that when children are caught in the middle of contentious divorces or situations, grandparents often become very concerned that their relationships with their grandchildren will be interrupted. In cases where there is extreme animosity, grandparents may even feel like the grandchildren might be taken away from them altogether. While these fears may be appropriate, grandparents do have rights in Long Island courts.

What are Grandparents’ Rights?

The law in New York provides parents with the rights to make decisions for and about their children. This means that a parent’s decisions regarding his or her child will in many cases trump a grandparent’s desire for visitation or custody of the child. In fact, the parent’s wishes are given “special weight” by the court. However, in New York, grandparent’s rights arise from “the best interests of the child” standard, and therefore, grandparents in many cases will prevail in being able to spend time with their grandchildren.

Why are Grandparents’ Rights Important?

In these cases, grandparents are often left with a feeling of helplessness. Grandparents are often positive role models, and can provide a sense of stability and security to the children who are going through a difficult time at home, whether it be because of divorce, separations, or simply animosity between their parents. Because of the strong and positive bonds between grandparent and grandchild, courts on Long Island will take a strong look at whether visitation or even custody can be granted to grandparents. Since courts in Nassau County and Suffolk County use the “best interests of the child” standard when determining who will get custody and visitation, the importance of the child’s relationships with his or her grandparents are taken into account.

When will a Long Island Court Order Visitation with Grandparents?

The determination of whether a grandparent can have court-ordered visitation with his or her grandchild, courts on Long Island use the standard known as “best interests of the child.” This means that judges analyze how and whether the child will best be served by the visitation in that family’s set of circumstances. Many clients come in and want to know how a court will determine what is truly in their child’s best interests. The answer to this question is perhaps not as simple as one would like to hear. Instead, it is a standard that is based on each family’s unique dynamics and circumstances.

My Grandchild is in an Unstable Environment at Home; Can I Get Custody?

Again, because Long Island courts use a “best interests of the child” standard when determining custody and visitation, courts will consider the home environment as one of the factors in making the determination of who gets custody and visitation. You will have to prove that visitation is in the child’s best interests.

My Grandchild’s Parents Have Shut Me Out from My Grandchild’s Life; How Can I Get Visitation?

The burden will be on you to prove that visitation with you will be in the child’s best interests. You might have to provide information about your relationship with the child and show that the child desires the visitation. It is important to understand that visitation can be denied if it would be harmful to the child.

In What Cases are Grandparents Awarded Custody of their Grandchildren?

In some cases involving abuse or neglect by the parents, grandparents are able to obtain full custody of their grandchildren. In such cases, child service agencies are often involved. An experienced Long Island family law attorney can assist you in navigating this process.

How Can I Assert My Rights as a Grandparent?

If you are grandparent with questions about visitation and custody of your grandchild, you should speak to an experienced family law attorney in Nassau County or Suffolk County. You may need to join in the present divorce or custody proceedings, or file your own petition to ask the court for visitation or custody rights.

Contact an Experienced Long Island Family Law Attorney for Help

See this page to learn everything you need to know about Child Custody and Visitation on Long Island.

The Long Island Family Law Office of Robert E. Hornberger, Esq. offers free consultations on al divorce or family law related matters. We can review your unique circumstances and provide advice on the best course of action for you in your grandparents’ rights and non-parent visitation. Contact our office today at 631-923-1910 to schedule your appointment.


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