Grandparents’ Rights: New York Courts Grant Visitation More Than Any Other State

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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The State of New York takes a unique role with regard to grandparents’ rights, according to Elliot Schlissel, a New York grandparents’ rights attorney who has been assisting clients for over 30 years in the New York metropolitan area and in Long Island’s Nassau and Suffolk counties. He explained why New York courts grant grandparents visitation with their grandchildren more than any other state.

Grandparents are an important resource

There is a United States Supreme Court case by the name of Traxel which is extremely limiting with regard to the ability of grandparents to obtain visitation with their grandchildren, according to Schlissel. However, he says that New York has basically gotten around the decision in Traxel and has what is considered the most liberal stance of any state in the country concerning grandparents’ rights. He explained:

New York recognizes that grandparents are in a unique position to add to the intellectual, social and personal development of their grandchildren. The courts in New York are extremely liberal with regard to grandparents obtaining visitation with their grandchildren, even if the parents are hostile towards them. Should one parent die, his or her parents are usually given visitation with their grandchildren once a month by the courts.

Grandparents are also looked at as an important resource for both custody and visitation in the event that one or both of the child’s parents are deceased, disabled or neither parent is capable of appropriately watching or supervising their children. Grandparents have become more active in the past few years in the State of New York’ taking advantage of the very liberal laws here.

What do courts look at when granting visitation & custody?

We asked Schlissel what characteristics or attributes of a grandparent’s relationship are the most important’ and what judges look at when deciding whether or not to grant grandparents visitation or custody. Here’s what he told us:

The grandparents have to be stable, reasonable people who are mobile, have the financial resources to take care of or assist their grandchildren and have a suitable place to visit with their grandchildren. The theory is that grandparents are a resource that can benefit their grandchildrens’ lives. They’re a unique resource and if they are appropriate individuals, then the court should do everything in its power to see to it that they have the ability to spend time with their grandchildren and enrich their grandchildrens’ lives.

How often do grandparents win in these situations?

That’s an important question when deciding to hire an attorney to represent your, and your grandchildrens’, interests. Schlissel explained:

Grandparents win cases if they obtain the right counsel. There are not many law firms that have extensive experience in litigating grandparents’ rights issues. The few law firms that have litigated grandparents’ rights issues, such as ours, have an overwhelming level of success in obtaining visitation for grandparents. In fact, I would say in almost every case we’ve been involved in, we’ve obtained some level of visitation, guardianship or custody for the grandparents we’ve represented.

Grandparents who are being denied access to their grandchildren should retain an experienced adoption, support and custody lawyer such as the attorneys at the Law Offices of Elliot Schlissel who has been litigating cases on behalf of grandparents for approximately 30 years. The grandparents’ rights attorneys at the Law Offices of Elliot Schlissel have extensive experience in obtaining visitation, guardianship and custody for grandparents regarding their grandchildren.

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