What Are Grandparents Rights in Regards to Custody and Visitation of their Grandchildren?

Grandparents do not have automatic rights of visitation or custody of their grandchildren. They must prove “extraordinary circumstances” in order to obtain these rights, for example, one or both of the parents are unfit. Here is possible case scenario: father and mother both have drug and alcohol addictions and one may have been prosecuted from driving while intoxicated with the child in the vehicle. He or she may have been charged with the misdemeanor of endangering the welfare of the child. In such a case, the court may direct the attorney for the child to make a recommendation to the court as to whether the grandparent(s)¬† home would be a suitable place for the child to live during the pendency of the court case. Sometimes the¬†county Department of Social Services gets involved by the filing of a neglect petition against one or both parents. Best interests of the child is always a consideration in a case of this nature. Where there is no evidence of poor parenting, grandparents often receive visitation rights by simple stipulation between the grandparent(s) and the parents. Often times the attorney for the child can be instrumental in helping the parties to come to an agreement. Sometimes the parties have hurt feelings and the court system helps both sides to heal their relationships and work together as a family unit. If you need advice in regard to these issues, feel free to contact...

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO OBTAIN CUSTODY OF YOUR CHILDREN?

Best interest of the child is the test used in the family and supreme courts of the State of New York to determine custody of minors. The parent who presents the best evidence of providing a stable and loving home will be advantaged in any child custody dispute. In New York State, neither party has an automatic right to custody of children. To seek custody in New York, the child(ren) must have lived in state for six months before you can file a custody petition. New York Courts inquire as to who is the primary caretaker of the child(ren): the one who feeds, dresses, drives them to school, changes diapers and brings them to medical appointments. If both parents share these responsibilities equally, both are considered equal caretakers of the child(ren). The court also evaluates the fitness of the parent to take care of the child(ren): whether there are issues with alcohol or drugs or unpredictable behaviors that may negatively impact on the child(ren). History of domestic violence is also considered in determining custody and visitation. Where there is a history of behavior that is particularly worrisome, supervised visitation may be the only kind of visitation ordered by the court. An attorney for the child is immediately appointed to represent the child(ren) upon the filing of a custody or visitation petition. The attorney for the child meets with the child(ren) and speaks with the parents and/or their attorneys and makes recommendations to the court pertaining to the welfare of the child(ren). In cases where both parents are able to communicate well and agree a significant percentage of the time,...

PREGNANT WOMEN’S RIGHTS IN OUR COURTS

I have practiced in many family and criminal courts over the past 25 years in New York State. An issue of significant importance which we must guard against happening in the courts of our state, is the prosecution of women in criminal or family court under the state’s penal and child abuse laws, respectively, for using drugs or alcohol during pregnancy. Eighteen states prosecute pregnant women for child abuse for using drugs during pregnancy and 18 states require health care professionals to report suspected drug abuse.

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