Grandparents Rights

Sometimes circumstances can change within a family setting. If you’re a grandparent and are worried about being unable to see your grandchild(ren) you should know that you have the rights. Separation, divorce, and death are life-altering changes and can affect your relationship with your grandchildren. In some cases, you do have legal rights as a grandparent.

There are times when a grandparent, in the state of New York, has the right to request court-ordered visitation.

This can happen when:

  • The grandparent has a substantial relationship with the grandchild.
  • The parents of the child are interfering with marked efforts by the grandparent to maintain a relationship with the grandchild.
  • One or both parents have died.

Grandparents rights apply only to biological or adoptive grandparents. This right does not extend to other relatives or great-grandparents.

You may have questions about what you need to prove in court in order to be granted court-ordered visitation.
One of the things that you must have is called the “burden of proof”.

What does “burden of proof” mean?

This means that you must have the sufficient evidence to back up your request for court-ordered time with the child or children in question. You must prove that ordered visits are in the child’s best interest.

Once you have established that there are legal grounds for your visitation you need to then give reasons why spending time with the grandchild is in their best interest. Things that are considered are:

  • The child’s age.
  • The distance from your home or visitation site and the child’s home.
  • The child’s wishes. (If the child is old enough to express their personal preference.)


The court will likely assign an attorney to any children in this case. The attorney for the child(ren) will then represent the child and what actions are in the child’s best interest.

How do you start the process?

It all begins with a petition which is filed in court. This petition is typically filed in the county where the child involved resides.

For more information on the process of grandparent’s rights, please contact our office. In many cases, grandparents do have a legal right to see their grandchild.

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