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Do grandparents have legal rights to custody and visitation in New York State?

Kahn and Richardson - Friday, September 13, 2013

In New York State, certain circumstances must exist before the courts may grant custody or visitation rights to grandparents.  Where one or both parents of the child are deceased, or where circumstances show that there is a need for the courts to intervene, grandparents may apply to the New York State Supreme Court or the New York State Family Court for visitation rights, alleging that the best interests of the child shall be served by granting visitation rights to the grandparents.


In certain extraordinary circumstances, a court may decide that granting custody to grandparents serves the best interests of the child.  An example of such extraordinary circumstances is an  extended disruption of custody  from the legal caretaker or parent, where the child lived with the grandparents for at least 24 continuous months.  Other circumstances have also been found to be extraordinary.  They include persistent parental neglect, parental alcohol and drug abuse and a history of parental domestic violence.

Litigation is not the only way to provide custody or visitation rights to grandparents.  They can also be granted by agreements between the grandparents and the child s parents. Extraordinary circumstances are not required.

An experienced custody attorney will help you apply the specific facts and circumstances of your case to the law.



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