Grandparents Visitation Proceedings in Family Court

Grandparents rights lawyerGrandparents, in the State of New York, can bring visitation proceedings with regard to their grandchildren in the Family Court. The proceedings must be brought in the Family Court located in the County where their grandchildren reside. Although grandparents can bring these proceedings, they have to meet certain basic requirements to be successful in these proceedings.

An example of one of the situations where the grandparents can obtain either visitation or custody of their grandchildren is where one or both of the grandchildren’s parents are deceased. In addition, where the courts find the appropriate conditions exist for the grandparents to have visitation and the visitation is in the grandchild’s best interests, the courts can also grant the grandparents visitation. In these cases the grandparents have the obligation to show the court there are circumstances involving a strong relationship between the grandparents and their grandchildren and that it would be in the grandchild’s best interests to continue to maintain that relationship with the grandparents.

Grandparents Visitation Where Both Parents Are Alive

In cases where both parents are alive and neither of them are unfit parents, the grandparents must show, in their petition, more than that they simply have a great love and affection for their grandchildren. They must establish that their relationship with the grandchildren has existed over a period of time and the parents have taken action to prevent the continuation of this relationship between the grandparents and their grandchildren. The grandparents must show that they have tried to maintain the relationship with the grandchildren and the parents have interfered or prevented the continuation of this relationship.

If the grandparents can show they have had a relationship over a considerable period of time with their grandchildren and this relationship has contributed to the health and well-being of the grandchildren the courts will find that it is in the grandchildren’s best interests to continue to maintain their relationship with their grandparents. In these situations the court will give the grandparents visiting rights with regard to their grandchildren.

Grandparents Rights in New YorkElliot Schlissel is a grandparents rights’ attorney.

Grandmother Granted Custody

grandparents' rights attorney in New YorkThis case involves an appeal by a father seeking to set an Order aside which granted the maternal grandmother custody of the father’s child. The father’s appeal was denied. The grandmother was granted primary residential custody of the child.

History of the Case

The father and mother were not married. They resided together until the baby was six months old. At that time, the father was incarcerated. The mother resided with her mother, her child’s grandmother. There came a time when the mother was also incarcerated. During the time both parents were in jail, the grandmother dutifully raised the child.

Father Obtains Visitation When Released From Prison

When the father was released from prison he obtained visitation rights with his child. The father thereafter brought a proceeding seeking physical custody of the child. He claimed both he and the child’s mother had maintained a continuing relationship with the child.

Justice Elizabeth Garry wrote the decision for the Appellate Division for the Third Department (an appeals court). She found there were extraordinary circumstances involved in this case. The award of primary physical custody by the Family Court to the grandmother with joint custody to the child’s parents was affirmed. She stated in her decision that considering all of the testimony, the history of the circumstances of the parents and the child’s developmental needs, the grandparent was “uniquely qualified to oversee the child’s therapeutic regime…and the father does not understand or refuses to accept the severity of the child’s developmental delay.” It was therefore in the best interest of the child the grandmother be awarded primary physical custody of the child.


This decision is supported by the theory that the best interests of the child should be taken into consideration when the court grants custody. In this case the grandparent was the most suitable and appropriate residential parent. Grandparents play an exceedingly important role in the development of their grandchildren.  In addition to this case being a victory for children’s rights, it is also a victory for grandparent’s rights. New York grandparents' rights lawyer

Grandmother Gets Visitation of Child Moved to Florida

The Family Court of Rensselaer County, New York, granted a grandmother’s petition for visitation with her grandchild who had moved to Florida. The grandmother brought a petition for visitation concerning her grandchild. She claimed the mother and the grandchild had significant connections with the State of New York. She was able to present substantial evidence that the grandchild’s present and future welfare existed in the State of New York.

Mother Fights Grandmother’s Petition

The mother challenged both the grandmother’s right to have visitation with the grandchild and claimed the New York Court did not have jurisdiction to even hear the case. The Family Court of Rensselaer County, after hearing the case, decided the grandmother would have unsupervised visitation with the grandchild even though the grandchild was currently living in Florida.

The Mother Appeals

The mother appealed the case to the Appellate Division of the Third Department (an appeals court). In her appeal the mother claimed the Family Court should have dismissed the grandmother’s petition because New York did not have jurisdiction to handle the case. The Family Court judge rendered the decision to hear the case based on the fact New York was the home state of the grandchild for six months prior to the grandmother’s commencement of the visitation proceeding. The court took note the child moved to Florida only two months before the proceeding in the Family Court was initiated.

The Appeals Court affirmed the decision of the Family Court giving the grandmother visitation. The Appeals Court ruled the Family Court had both jurisdiction over the grandchild and the mother of the grandchild.


This is a case involving a grandmother living in Rensselaer County, New York obtaining unsupervised visits with her grandchild who now resided in the State of Florida. This case is an example of protecting a grandparent’s rights to maintain a warm and loving relationship with her for grandparents seeking visitation

Guide to Grandparents’ Legal Rights Regarding Their Grandchildren – Part II

lawyer for grandparents on Long IslandGrandparents: Custody or Visitation?

There are different requirements or situations where grandparents will receive custody than those situations and requirements for grandparents to obtain visitation. The “best interests of the child” is the standard utilized in New York and all other states, in the United States, when determining whether a grandparent should be entitled to either visitation or to have custody of their grandchildren. The following are some of the factors utilized by courts in New York to determine whether it is appropriate to give grandparents either custody or visitation of their grandchildren:

  • the physical and emotional needs of the children.
  • the safety of the children.
  • the ability to maintain the welfare of the children.
  • the capabilities of both the parents and/or grandparents to meet the needs of the children.
  • the level of closeness of the relationship between the grandchildren and their grandparents.
  • how long have the grandparents maintained a relationship with the grandchildren.
  • have the children been neglected or abused by their parents and/or grandparents.
  • are there substance abuse issues in the grandparents’ home or the parents’ home.
  • the ability of the children to adjust to a new home or school situation.
  • the ability of the both the parents and the grandparents to provide care, love, affection and nurturing of the children.
  • how far apart do the parents and grandparents live.
  • is one or both of the parents deceased.
  • is one of the parents in the hospital and the other parent unavailable.
  • is one of the parents in jail and the other parent incapable of caring for the children.
  • the desires of the children to live with either the parents or grandparents. (Greater weight is given to this factor when the children are older).

A Best Interest Test

For grandparents to obtain visitation or custody in New York State, they must clearly show it is in the children’s best interests they receive either visitation or custody. In addition, if the grandparents are seeking custody in New York, they must show how this will affect the relationship, if one exists, between the children and their parents.


Grandparents’ rights are hotly contested issues in the courts of New York. If you are a grandparent and you seek custody or visitation of your grandchildren, the best way to ensure the greatest potential for success is to hire an experienced, dedicated grandparents’ rights lawyers.grandparents attorney in New York

Guide to Grandparents’ Legal Rights Regarding Their Grandchildren – Part I

attorney for grandparentsGrandparents’ rights regarding custody and visitation arrangements are regulated on a state by state basis. There is a federal statute called the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980 which impacts upon grandparents’ rights. This statute requires each and every state to give full faith and credit to child custody orders and decrees given by other states. In 1998, a federal law went into effect which required all 50 states to recognize and give legal enforcement to court orders from other states giving grandparents visitation rights with their grandchildren. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act requires courts in the state where the child is located to enforce child custody orders from other states.

Troxel v. Granville

In the year 2000, the United States Supreme Court, in the case of Troxel v. Granville rendered a decision that a statute from Washington State giving grandparents visitation rights violated the due process rights of the biological parents to raise their children. Since this case was decided, there have been numerous state court decisions in New York as well as sister states and state laws trying to get around, modify, or soften the decision in Troxel v. Granville. New York State is one of the most liberal states in the country when it comes to giving grandparents visitation and/or custody of their grandchildren.

grandparents rights lawyerElliot Schlissel has been litigating cases on behalf of grandparents for more than three decades.  He is successful in helping grandparents obtain visitation with their grandchildren.  In the appropriate situations, he has been successful in helping grandparents obtain custody of their grandchildren.  He strongly believes that grandparents can play an invaluable role in the lives of their grandchildren.

Grandparents’ Rights

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Elliot S. Schlissel is a grandparents’ rights lawyer with more than 35 years experience.  He can be reached for consultation at 516-561-6645, 718-350-2802, 1-800-344-6431 or by email to

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

Grandparents Rights After Divorces

father's rights attorneysGrandparents often have special relationships with their grandchildren. Sometimes the problems in the relationship between the parents, can disrupt the relationship between the grandparents and their grandchildren. So what can a grandparent do if the residential custodial parent refuses to give them access to their grandchildren?

Grandparents’ Rights

Grandparents can bring legal proceedings to force the custodial parent of their grandchildren to give them access and visitation with their grandchildren. In cases where grandparents have had relationships with their grandchildren or the grandchildren have lived with them, courts are especially cognizant of the relationship between the grandparents and their grandchildren being in the grandchildren’s best interest.

Custody for Grandparents

If neither of the parents are appropriate individuals to have custody of their children, grandparents have a right to step in and ask the courts for custody. In cases where the parents are unfit, have drug problems, alcohol problems, have issues involving child abuse and/or child neglect, grandparents are a valuable resource to help their grandchildren lead normal fulfilling lives. Grandparents can not only win custody but they can also be appointed the legal guardian of their grandchildren.

Grandparents Issues and Legal Complications

The law in the State of New York seeks to have the biological parents of their children raise the children whenever possible. The circumstances and situations where grandparents can obtain visitation rights and/or custody of their grandchildren are fact sensitive and involve sophisticated legal issues. If you, a friend or family member have questions concerning grandparents rights, feel free to call our law firm. Our phones are monitored 24/7. We can be reached at 718-350-2802, 516-561-6645, or 1-800-344-6431. We have been fighting for grandparents’ rights for more than 45 years and we have a long history of success in the representation of grandparents involving custody and visitation issues.advocate for grandparents rights

Grandparents’ Control Over Visitation Upheld

father's rights lawyerA proceeding was brought in Nassau County Supreme Court by Steven Libin. He requested the New York Court relinquish control over custody and visitation rights pursuant to a stipulation, to the Courts in Israel. Acting Supreme Court Judge Hope Zimmerman ruled against him. He appealed to the Appellate Division, Second Department, an appeals court in New York. The Appeals Court found Judge Zimmerman, “properly concluded that [her court] retained exclusive continuing jurisdiction over the stipulation as modified to reflect the child’s new residence in Israel.”

History of the Case

The child was born in February 2008. At the time, Libin and his wife, Diana, were residing in Israel. Diana died shortly after childbirth. Libin and the wife’s parents entered into an agreement in Nassau County wherein the wife’s parents, Katerina and Alexander Berkovitch, were given temporary custody of the child. Libin thereafter brought a proceeding in Nassau County and asked for sole custody and requested the prior stipulation with the grandparents be nullified.

Child in Israel but Case Stays in New York

In October 2008, a stipulation was entered into between Libin and the grandparents which gave Libin custody and the grandparents visitation rights. The stipulation was entered into at a time when Libin was residing in Israel. The stipulation stated the Supreme Court (in Nassau County) “shall retain exclusive jurisdiction over this matter for the purpose of enforcing or modifying or interpreting the terms of this agreement.”

The child lived for three years with Libin’s parents on Long Island. The paternal grandparents visited regularly.

In 2011, the maternal grandparents found out Libin had taken the child to Israel. At that time, Libin sought to have the jurisdiction over this proceeding transferred from the Supreme Court in Nassau County to courts in Israel. The court’s decision stated even though Libin planned on living in Israel, the signing of the stipulation giving jurisdiction to the New York State Court was still valid.


This is a case where the grandparents’ rights were upheld.helping grandparents

Grandparents’ Rights

Grandparents have a unique impact on their grandchildren. Children visit with their grandparents. They receive love affection and ties to family relationships from their grandparents. The nurturing relationships grandparents and grandchildren have, provide an additional sense of stability for children that cannot be obtained from other relationships. In cases where grandchildren are the product of homes in turmoil, grandparents are a precious support system for their grandchildren.

Grandparents And Visitation

The issues involving grandparents’ relationships with their grandchildren and how the courts interpret grandparents’ rights to visitation with their grandchildren are based on the concept of what is in the children’s best interest. Should grandparents be deprived of their visitation rights, they have the burden of proving in the Family Court, in the State of New York, it would be in the children’s best interest to maintain a relationship and spend time with the grandparents.

Each case involving visitation rights for grandparents’ is unique. Grandparents who seek to build loving relationships with their grandchildren and have had a past history of visitation and contact with their grandchildren have a greater opportunity to succeed in grandparents’ visitation proceedings.

Prior to bringing a proceeding in the Family Court, the grandparents should lay out a history of contact with their grandchildren to establish periods of prior visitation, gift giving on birthdays and holidays, and other reasonable steps showing they have tried to maintain a relationship with their grandchildren that has been interfered with by either one or both of the children’s parents.

Grandparents Don’t Exist Forever

Grandparents don’t exist forever. They often die as the children grow up. Children should be entitled to at least their memories of a loving relationship they maintained with their grandparents.

About The Author

help for fathers and grandparents rightsElliot S. Schlissel, Esq. has been defending grandparent’s rights for more than 45 years. His law firm also represents fathers in father’s rights cases involving custody and visitation issues.