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Can grandparents get visitation rights after a divorce?

There is a special bond between grandparents and their grandchildren that not many people can truly understand. Grandchildren turn towards them for advice and guidance and grandparents often provide a sounding board when guidance is needed. But, when the child's parents get a divorce and child custody and visitation plans are finalized, this bond is often overlooked-grandparents are sidelined and this can greatly affect a child who was once very close to their grandparent.

New York is one of the few states that allows grandparents to petition for visitation rights, making it very similar to when a parent petitions for custody or visitation. The petitioning party has to prove their case in court, demonstrating it is in the child's best interests to keep the grandparents in their life.

Before the court will hear the case, the grandparent must demonstrate they have legal standing to bring the petition. This means they must show they have a legal interest to participate in the legal case. In New York, this exists when there is at least one deceased parent or the special circumstances of the case necessitates the involvement of the court. Some case law has established this is often found if the child has lived with their grandparents for at least 24 months or even if they have lived with them for less than this period if extraordinary circumstances exist. Though there is no mention of what constitutes extraordinary circumstances, neglect, abuse or substance abuse by parents often qualifies.

Though the law exists, exercising grandparents' rights to visitation can often be daunting, as legal standing must be established and proof must be gathered for this purpose. Grandparents wishing to maintain their relationship with the children may want to consider consulting an experienced attorney for guidance.

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