In New York, grandparents have a limited right to visit their grandchildren. Instead, the law recognizes that parents have a fundamental right to raise their children as they desire, including who visits their children. Therefore, a New York court will only grant visitation to grandparents if doing so would be in the best interest of the child.

Compared with other states, the grandparent visitation laws of New York are quite restrictive. They tend only to allow for grandparents visitation where one of the parents is deceased or under circumstances where the court feels intervention is proper. Moreover, courts will only consider requests for visitation from the natural grandparents, or grandparents by legal adoption. Some New York courts have held that aunts, uncles, and great-grandparents cannot obtain visitation rights.

New York Court’s Two-Part Test

New York uses many factors in determining whether grandparents are entitled to visitation rights with their grandchild.  First, the court must determine if visitation is in the best interest of the child. Second, it must determine that there is a well-established and functional relationship between the grandparents and grandchild.

1. Best Interest of The Child
In determining whether visitation is in the best interest of the child, New York courts will consider all relevant factors. Although the court does not use a list of factors, some of these factors include:

  • Child’s wishes
  • Emotional and physical needs of the child
  • Motivation of parent’s limiting grandparents visitation
  • Morality of parents
  • Parent’s past behavior and conduct
  • The atmospheres of the home environment
  • Potential education opportunities

2. Pre-existing Relationship
In determining whether there is a strong relationship between the grandparents and the grandchild, the court will also consider all relevant factors. If the parents made a deliberate effort to prevent contact between the grandparent and grandchild, and the grandparents make an effort to establish a relationship, the court may find one to exist. Additionally, if the grandparents had custody of the grandchild for a period of time before custody was returned to the parents, then there may be a strong pre-existing relationship.

Consulting an Attorney

A certified New York family lawyer can provide you more information if there is a legal basis for your case.