Being an involved grandparent can place you in a legally vague place. Essentially, you act as an important, continued part of your grandchild’s life. However, you may not have much of a legal voice in the child’s future.
This problem compounds if the child’s parents divorce. You could face resistance from the custodial parent, as they may attempt to block your access to the kids.
To secure visitation rights, you must plead your case in a courtroom. Here is a broad overview of how to gain these rights.
Legal Grounds for Securing Grandparent Visitation in New York
Grandparents must meet certain criteria to gain visitation. They cannot simply rely on their blood relationship.
In New York, grandparents may be granted visitation if:
- Either of the child’s parents has died.
- The relationship between grandchild and grandparent is strong.
- The child’s parents have interfered with the grandparent/grandchild relationship.
Demonstrating the Best Interests of the Children
When it comes to kids, New York always makes sure they are cared for before anyone else. It isn’t concerned with the feelings or needs of the adults. It just wants the kids to be safe, healthy, and happy.
To secure your visitation rights, you must convince the court that your continued involvement is best for the child. There are several ways you can approach this argument.
The Child’s Detriment
One tactic is to explain your relationship with the child. If you have active, regular involvement, the child may see you as another important parental figure. Your sudden absence could create a detriment to the child’s welfare and development. Quite simply, your continued involvement will help keep the child stable, especially through the difficulty of a divorce.
The Parent’s Capability
The state may label a parent “unfit” and remove that parent’s rights. Unfit parents are a direct danger to their children. They may be abusive, neglectful, addicted to drugs or alcohol, and so on. The state isn’t going to keep tabs on every parent. It may be up to the grandparents to report the parent’s behavior to the court.
In extreme circumstances, an unfit parent may lose their custody rights altogether, and it may be necessary for the grandparents to take custody from there.
An inadequate parent isn’t always a direct danger to the child. They may simply not have the skills to help the child flourish. Perhaps you, as a grandparent, traditionally helped fill these roles that the birth parents lacked.
You can use these realities to help argue your need for visitation. Maybe you are the adult who primarily helps the kids with schoolwork. Perhaps you are responsible for helping with extracurricular activities which benefit the child’s physical health and social life.
As part of your plea, you can prove that the child will be healthier and more well-rounded with you in their lives.
Our firm is here to help grandparents get the visitation rights they deserve. If you need help, reach out today for a free consultation. You can call us at (516) 514-3868 or contact us online.