Grandparents’ rights have received quite a bit of attention in recent years. Many grandparents have less access to their grandchildren than they would like and want to know if anything can be done about it. New York law recognizes parents’ rights to determine who has access to their children and doesn’t give grandparents a fundamental right to visit with their grandchildren. When visitation rights are in a child’s best interests, grandparents may specifically request these rights.
One reason grandparents don’t automatically have visitation rights is because courts assume that competent parents act in their child’s best interest. When a grandparent believes that visitation is in a child’s best interest, they must prove that the parents’ denial of visitation is not in the child’s interests. In many cases, the parties involved reach an agreement through mediation.
In order for there to be a case in favor of grandparents’ rights, the grandparents must be the biological grandparents of the child or grandparents by adoption. Great-grandparents and step-grandparents usually don’t have any access to visitation rights under the law. In addition to grandparents being related to the child naturally or by legal adoption, they must have an established relationship with the child.
There are several factors that courts use to determine the best interest of the child. One of the most obvious is the child’s wishes. He or she may want to see more of their grandparents, but is unable to do so. If this causes emotional distress for the child, it might be in their best interest to visit with their grandparents.
Regular visits with the grandparents may play a role in the child’s physical or emotional wellbeing. In some circumstances, a grandparent may be in a better position to provide for certain needs that parents are unable or unwilling to. After the death of a parent or a divorce, regular contact with a grandparent may be beneficial for a child coping with the loss of or reduced contact with a parent.
Although some help with financial resources may benefit grandparents and the child, legal experts advise against grandparents offer a lump sum payment or early inheritance payouts in order to secure visitation. Courts are unlikely to rule in favor of a grandparent seen as treating a grandchild like property or chattel. A grandparent, in this case, would benefit more from appropriate legal representation.
In some cases, grandparents may be allowed a more active role in a child’s life due to circumstances at home. Sometimes, the behavior, conduct and morality of the parents motivates grandparents to play more of a role in a child’s life. Many children live in difficult home environments where better access to visits with grandparents makes their lives easier.
One of the most important factors in determining whether grandparents ought to have visitation rights is whether there is a strong relationship with the child. If such a relationship exists, and the parents tried to prevent contact, this is a situation where courts are more likely to intervene. Another factor taken into consideration is whether a grandparent or grandparents ever had custody of the child.
Another consideration that has made news in New York recently is the idea of virtual visitation. Although it is not separate from a traditional visitation arrangement, it does help make staying in touch easier for all involved. Virtual visitation uses traditional Internet communication methods, as well as video chat applications. Grandparents seeking this option should recognize its value as a long-distance communication tool, as well as a means of keeping in touch when they are not in good health and unable to visit in person.
Many of the same principles that apply to parental visitation also apply to grandparents seeking visitation. A grandparent can visit with the grandchild on a schedule that suits all parties and is determined by the court. One of the biggest advantages of visitation is the ability to take a more meaningful role in the child’s life. For children facing the death of one parent or a divorce, having access to a favorite grandparent on a regular schedule makes things easier. Because this is an arrangement that must be made with the best interest of the child in mind, grandparents benefit from knowing how to prove that regular contact is necessary to help keep the child happy.
Grandparents who feel that a grandchild may benefit from visitation may want to contact a lawyer to find out the best course of action for getting visitation. In many cases, children in chaotic home situations, or coping with loss of a parent due to death or divorce, have special emotional needs. Grandparents must help show that their influence in the child’s life is of benefit to them. With regular visitation options, a grandparent can maintain a good relationship with the child and play a role in maintaining their welfare.