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Do Grandparents Have Rights?

A growing and evolving area of law surrounds the issue of grandparents’ rights to visit their grandchildren. Unfortunately, grandparents frequently find themselves excluded after a divorce. What often happens is that the custodial parent is unable to control anger and hostility and severs all relations with the extended family of their ex-spouse. This hostile behavior may occur out of a need to hurt the ex-spouse or desire to sever all ties to their ex-spouse.  Whatever the reason, excluding grandparents can be an effect of the divorce that is devastating to the grandparents and harmful to the children.

Although grandparents’ rights are expanding throughout the country, in New York State they are still limited in nature and difficult to obtain. Grandparents who decide to file for court ordered visitation need to show there is a strong reason for them to be involved in the lives of their grandchildren since parents are presumed to be acting in the best interests of their children.

There are ways for grandparents to meet the strong burden of proof required to allow them to receive visitation rights. Grandparents who can show they have established a relationship with their grandchildren will be in a better position to have the court agree to award visitation. Where a parent tries to obstruct an established, positive relationship, a court may find that it is in the best interests of the grandchildren to have their grandparents in their lives.

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