Grandparents and Obtaining Visitation With Grandchildren

Most grandparents seek to have warm, loving relationships with their grandchildren. However, sometimes the parents themselves don’t get along. In other situations, one or both of the parents have a falling out with the grandparents and punish them by preventing the grandchildren from seeing them.

Filing A Lawsuit to Compel Grandparents’ Visitation

In the year 2000, the United States Supreme Court, in a case called Troxel v. Granville, dealt with a case involving grandparents’ rights in the State of Washington. The grandparents brought suit for visitation with their grandchildren. In this case the United States Supreme Court held that parents “[have a] fundamental right to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children.” This has been interpreted as to whether a grandparent will be able to see his grandchildren is solely up to the parents.

New York Law On Grandparents’ Visitation

New York is in the forefront of states in the country with regard to granting grandparents visitation rights. The first step is for the grandparents to bring a grandparents’ visitation rights proceeding in the Family Court in the county in which the child or children are located. The grandparents can allege various arguments to establish it would be in the child or children’s best interests that the grandparents receive visitation with them. Some of the arguments which can be made by grandparents concerning this issue are as follows:

  • The grandparents have previously acted in a capacity as custodial parents for the grandchildren.
  • The grandparents have had a long and loving relationship with the grandchildren over a significant period of time. Depriving them from interacting with their grandparents will have a negative impact on the grandchildren.
  • One or both of the parents of the child or children are lacking in the basic ability to deal with issues of the grandchildren. The grandparents have the capacity to deal with these issues.
  • In some cases, grandparents can even show it will be harmful to the grandchildren to deprive them of maintaining the existing relationship with their grandparents.

Grandparents’ Rights in Divorces

When the parents of children get divorced, it is possible to include in the settlement agreement statements giving access to the children to the grandparents. Grandparents’ visitation rights therefore can be specifically built into separation agreements or settlement agreements in divorce proceedings.


Grandparents are unique and they don’t live forever. The relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren can have a significant affirmative impact on their grandchildren’s lives. The love and devotion grandparents have for their grandchildren, coupled with their sense of worldliness, is not something to be underestimated. Courts should be extremely reasonable in granting grandparents access to their grandchildren.grandparents' rights advocate in Metropolitan New York

About Elliot S. Schlissel

Elliot S. Schlissel, Esq. has spent more that 45 years representing individuals in matrimonial and family law cases.