Grandparents' Rights

Much has been said about the rights of children to maintain relationships with both parents after a divorce, but what about grandparents? If you are feeling left out of your grandchildren's lives and you are being alienated from your children or stepchildren, know that you could have options, though taking the right steps requires experienced counsel.

I am attorney Kurt T. Richards, and I have represented more than 3,000 clients throughout the New York City area in the last 25 years. This includes helping grandparents navigate the ever evolving cases surrounding child custody and grandparent visitation. I offer no-nonsense representation and will tell you straight when it comes to determining what rights, if any, that you have to maintain contact with your grandchildren.

What Are My Visitation Rights As A Grandparent?

In cases of child custody, the legal presumption is that parents have the right to prevent grandparent/grandchildren visitation if they deem it appropriate. It is up to the grandparents seeking visitation rights to prove that their relationship only benefits the children's well-being. I can walk you through how to meet the court's requirements for establishing grandchild visitation.

The first requirement is to establish what is known as "standing" before the court. Standing exists when one or both of the parents of the child are deceased, or when you can prove a sufficient preexisting relationship with the grandchildren, meaning that you saw them often enough and played a key role in their lives.

Once a grandparent establishes standing, it will be necessary to prove that visitation is in the best interests of the children. The judge may consider if the custodial parent has inappropriately tried to obstruct or alienate children from a grandparent and may take that into account when determining what is in the children's best interest.

What If My Grandchild Is In An Unsafe Situation?

There may be legitimate reasons for a grandparent to seek legal guardianship of his or her grandchildren when those grandchildren are in danger or in need of alternate care. Such situations include:

  • Prolonged parental illness or absence (military service, jail time, etc.)
  • The parent is deemed unfit
  • The parent suffers from addiction to drugs or alcohol
  • Parental rights have been terminated

As with establishing visitation, setting up a legal guardianship requires an extensive review to ensure that the move is in the best interests of the children. As an experienced family lawyer, I can help you navigate this process to protect your grandparents' rights and the children that you love.

Contact my office in Staten Island for a free consultation to learn more about your rights. Call 718-720-1000 today.