child custodyDivorcefamily law

Grandparent’s Visitation Rights

At the Colwell Law Group, we regularly hear from grandparents who are being denied visitation with their grandchildren. They are very upset, and they want to know what rights they have.

The truth is that the law is very convoluted when it comes to grandparents’ rights. Although you might have the ability to obtain visitation, you will need an experienced family lawyer by your side to guide you through this process.

Grandparent’s Visitation Rights, the colwell law group


Children benefit from time with their grandparents. However, New York also acknowledges that parents should be free to decide how to raise their children without interference from grandparents or others. To balance these interests, New York allows grandparents to request visitation only in certain circumstances:

  • Either or both parents are dead
  • There are special circumstances that would warrant intervention, such as a prior relationship between child and grandparent

If any of the above is true, you have standing to request visitation. But having standing does not mean you automatically get visitation.

Instead, a judge will still need to consider whether visitation is in the child’s best interests, which is the second step of the analysis. This test looks at a variety of factors, such as why the parents are denying visitation, the child’s wishes, and the extent of the grandparents’ relationship with the child. Grandparents always have the burden of showing that visitation is in the child’s best interests.

When parents are resistant to visitation, it can be very difficult for grandparents to convince a judge that visitation is necessary. This is why you need an experienced attorney’s assistance.


Sometimes, grandparents want to seek custody of their grandchild. Custody is very difficult for grandparents to obtain, just as it is for any non-parent, since the law presumes that it is in a child’s best interests for parents to have custody.

To even get a court to consider your petition you will need to show that extraordinary circumstances exist, such as:

  • The parents have relinquished the care and custody of the child to the grandparents for at least two years
  • The parents have abandoned the child
  • The parents are unfit, such as by having a mental illness or a drug addiction
  • The parents are unfit because they are abusive and a danger to the child

Once grandparents establish standing to ask for custody, they still must convince a judge that custody is in the grandchild’s best interest. The more you can show a loving relationship with the grandchild, the better your chances of receiving custody.

Contact Our Herkimer County Child Custody Attorneys Today

At the Colwell Law Group, we understand how important the grandparent-grandchild bond is. For that reason, we happily represent grandparents in visitation or custody proceedings. Although these cases are difficult for everyone involved, we do everything that we can to obtain a favorable result for our clients. You can be sure that we will pursue all avenues for obtaining visitation or custody of your beloved grandchildren.

For more information on how we can help, please contact us today and schedule an initial consultation.

Do Grandparents Have Visitation Rights?

After a divorce or breakup, two parents might come to an agreement about whether the noncustodial parent will have visitation rights to his or her children. If they can’t come to an agreement, then the court will figure out a visitation schedule that suits the children’s best interest. However, what about the grandparents? Will grandparents have the right to visit their grandchildren as well?

Petition for Visitation Rights

In the state of New York, we are one of only several states that provide nonparents the ability to petition for visitation rights. Among nonparents, grandparents are included. The process of petitioning for grandparental visitation rights is not very different from the way a parent will petition the court for such rights.

In order to prevail in a petition for visitation rights, a New York grandparent will need to argue his or her case before the court. During court proceedings, the grandparent or grandparents will be required to show why visitation will be in the best interests of their grandchildren. Other nonparents who are permitted to petition the court for visitation rights include siblings, and the process is the same.

When making its determination in a grandparent visitation rights case, the court will consider the unique facts relating to the matter at hand. It may also consider the child’s own wishes if the child is deemed to be mature enough to provide such input.

Contact a Family Law Lawyer

Because grandparents will be required to actually present and prove their cases before the court, they may want to contract the services of an experienced family law attorney. A family law attorney, such as those at the Colwell Law Group, will be helpful in formulating the grandparents’ petition and arguments in a way that supports their desire see and visit with their grandchildren.

What are the Visitation Rights of Grandparents?

Grandparents should have the ability to spend time with their grandchildren simply because it is usually in the best interest of children to have their grandparents in their lives. However, the question of whether a grandparent will actually be able to assert the legal right to spend time with his or her grandchildren is a matter for a New York family court to decide. This article will discuss some of the things that courts consider in grandparent visitation cases.

When deciding a grandparent visitation case, courts will first consider whether the grandparent has any legal standing in the case of their grandchild. Step-grandparents and great-grandparents do not have any legal right to ask for visitation with a child. As such, courts will determine if the grandparent has the legal right to make such a visitation request by asking the grandparent to show that he or she has legal standing.

Before the court decides if it is appropriate to hear the grandparent’s visitation request, the grandparent must show that he or she has a legal interest to spend time with his or her grandchild and a legal right to request it. The grandparent is determined to have legal standing to request the visitation when one or both of the parents of the child have died or the court determines that it needs to be involved due to the special circumstances of a child’s particular case.

Contact a New York Divorce Attorney

Grandparents who wish to assert their visitation rights may want to discuss their cases with a qualified family law attorney in Albany. An experienced attorney will be able to determine the most appropriate legal strategies to employ for the purposes of asserting the rights of grandparents to visit with a grandchild or grandchildren.

Source:, “Grandparenting: Visitation,” accessed Aug. 31, 2016.

Grandparent Visitation Rights Could Be a Matter of Life and Death

There is no greater joy as a grandparent than spending time with your grandchildren. In fact, a research study from the University of California recently showed that spending time with your grandchildren and other relatives could be a matter of life and death. According to the study, loneliness is a common culprit that can lead to premature death.

The “Loneliness in Older Persons” research looked into the lives of 1,600 seniors with average ages of 71. Among the participants who reported feeling lonely, 23 percent of them had passed away within the next six year. Meanwhile, just 14 percent of the participants who felt like they had plenty of company had died over the following six years.

Having regular access to friends and family members is an absolute necessity for an aging senior citizen. This applies to spending time with grandchildren as well. Being denied access to your grandchildren is an emotional burden that no grandparent should ever have to bear. However, circumstances can be such that a grandparent isn’t able to spend meaningful time with his or her grandchildren.

Benefits of Grandparent Visitation

In addition to the life-prolonging benefits of spending time with your grandchildren, it is important to recognize that you grandchildren also benefit from spending time with you. Not only do they learn about the family history and old family recipes, but they will also benefit from your bigger and more knowledgeable perspective of the world that only age and time can bestow.

New York grandparents who want to spend time with their grandchildren will be happy to hear that New York law supports grandparent visitation rights. While every case is different, if you have been denied access to your grandchildren in New York, you might be able to assert your grandparental rights in court.

Contact an Experienced Albany Grandparent’s Rights Lawyer

Here at the Colwell Law Group, we know the importance of being able to see your grandchildren when they are going through the trying times of divorce between their parents. Give us a call today with your questions with or representation for grandparent’s rights in New York.

Source: Chron, “Your parents, grandparents will live longer if you spend more time with them, study says,” Will Axford, Jan. 03, 2017


An Overview of Grandparents’ Rights

Most children with grandparents have some sort of relationship with them. Be it weekend with grandma and grandpa or special trips to visit them, the bond between a grandparent and grandchild can be enormous. However, sometimes if the relationship between the parent and grandparent(s) is strained, this can lead to children missing out on this important relationship.

Grandparents’ Rights

Until the 1970s the relationship between children and their grandparents had little, if any, protection under family law. But after 1970, grandparents’ rights were put in place to help preserve those bonds. Now, barring certain factors such as abuse, in many jurisdictions, parents cannot stand in the way of the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren. In cases where parents refuse to let children see their grandparents, a nonparental visitation agreement can be granted by the courts.

Grandparents who are denied access to their grandchildren can petition the court and request a nonparental visitation agreement be put in place. However, the grandparent has to prove that the agreement would be in the best interests of the child. The court will examine areas such as the existing relationship between the child and grandparent, the relationship between the grandparent and the parent, if there is a history of abuse, the last time the grandparent had contact with the grandchild and what effect the relationship would have on the child and parent’s relationship. If visitation is proved to be beneficial for the child, it will be granted. Grandparents will have a visitation schedule created that will help to preserve the relationship.

Call a New York Custody Lawyer

For grandparents who are being kept from their grandchildren, speaking with a legal professional familiar with this issue can help. Learning all of the options can help a person facing this situation decide the best course of action.

Source: FindLaw, “Grandparents’ Rights,” accessed June 17, 2016

Can Grandparents Get Custody Over Their Grandchildren?

Some grandparents do not have to wait until their grandchildren have time in their busy schedules. Some grandparents have assumed the role of parent, so they see and care for their grandchildren every day of the week. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that 2.7 million grandparents are raising their grandchildren these days.

The primary reason why grandparents are taking over is because of parental substance abuse. A New York Times article recently reported that there are numerous children who are removed from their homes by social services to be raised by next of kin — in many cases because of opiate-based painkiller abuse. Incarceration, parental death, neglect, abuse and abandonment are other reasons why grandparents might take over.

Help for New York Grandparents

In a lot of cases, grandparents who take over child rearing duties can qualify for foster care benefits from the state. This is good news because so many “grandfamilies” are living below the poverty level. Considering that many grandparents are retired and barely making ends meet off their meager social security benefits, it’s easy to see why these families are below the poverty line.

In different circumstances, grandparents can seek legal guardianship of their grandchildren through three primary strategies: guardianship, legal custody or adoption. All three of these pathways require a court petition. Most commonly, grandparents will attempt to get a custody order, which might require proving that the parents are unfit. By speaking with a New York family law attorney grandparents can get more information about which pathway for legal guardianship of a grandchild is most appropriate for them and their families.

Source: Fox Business, “More Grandparents Taking Role of ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’,” Casey Dowd, Sep. 09, 2016


The Colwell Law Group, LLC.  Coronavirus (COVID-19) Notice on Continued Operations

(updated 3/23/20 9:15 am)

The global impact of Coronavirus has been unprecedented, and just as each of you, we are taking the situation one day at a time.  Our thoughts go out to all who have been affected by the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19).  Please know that the Colwell Law Group takes the safety and wellbeing of our clients and team members very seriously. In accordance with the firm's emergency response plan, all team members have begun working via secure remote connections.  However, 100% of our regular operations will continue uninterrupted via these remote connections.

Most court clerks remain open to accept new filings and motions.  Emergency applications can still be heard.  However, previously scheduled appearances have been adjourned until further notice.  If you have a scheduled call or meeting with any member of the CLG team, you can expect it to proceed as scheduled.  Given the situation, all such meetings will take place over the phone or video conference until further notice.

Thank you for your understanding and patience during these trying times. We know that your family law issues do not just disappear because we must shelter in place.  In fact, in many situations the quarantine will only serve to make these issues worse.  CLG stands ready to help!  We are dedicated to serving your needs in this new normal and further your best interests as always.  While the developing situation surrounding COVID-19 is serious, at CLG we’re focused on combating fear with proactive solutions rather than reactive retreats.

For further information, please contact our Director of Operations, Jennifer Stevens at or 518-462-4242. Thank you.