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Law Office of Joshua Adam Kittenplan, P.C.
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Can Grandparents Get Legal Visitation Or Custody Of A Grandchild?


Several studies have shown the value of grandparent-grandchild relationships and it is no wonder why. A strong relationship with grandparents is critical to a child’s well-being and development. The wisdom, support, and time grandparents provide their grandchildren is invaluable. Unfortunately, parents sometimes do not allow family members, such as grandparents, to have a relationship with their children. They do this for many reasons. Perhaps the parent thinks the grandparent did something wrong, or perhaps they are trying to punish the other parent.

On Long Island, as throughout the rest of New York, grandparents can seek court-ordered visitation or legal custody of their grandchild. However, the grounds to do so are limited. Below, our Long Island child custody lawyer explains more.

Legal Grounds for Grandparents to Obtain Legal Visitation

Grandparents can petition the court for visitation with their grandchild, but the grounds to do so are limited. It is important to know that the right to petition the court applies only to grandparents, and not great-grandparents or other relatives. The circumstances that allow a grandparent to seek legal visitation are as follows:

  • One or both parents pass away,
  • One or both parents have significantly interfered with a grandparent’s attempt to establish a bond with their grandchild, or
  • A substantial relationship already exists between the child and the grandparent

When one of the parents has passed away, a grandparent has automatic standing to pursue legal visitation. Grandparents who wish to pursue legal visitation for other reasons have the burden of proof to show that they already have a substantial relationship with the child, or that one or both parents have significantly interfered with their attempt to bond with the child.

Legal Grounds for Grandparents to Obtain Custody

There are approximately 2.7 million grandchildren being raised by their grandparents in the United States. Over six million children live in the same home as their grandparents. Even more children live in multigenerational homes with both their parents and grandparents. These arrangements are often informal, but there are times when grandparents choose to fight for legal custody of their grandchildren. Grandparents sometimes need to petition the court for permanent custody or temporary guardianship when they feel their adult child is unable to care for the child. When one of the following extraordinary circumstances exists, grandparents can seek legal custody:


  • Both parents have passed away,
  • The parents are physically, emotionally, or sexually abusive to the child,
  • The parent neglects the child, or
  • The parent or parents have abandoned the child.

When a grandparent files for custody, each parent will receive notice of the petition. The court may ensure the child’s best interests are represented by appointing them an attorney. A judge may also order the services of a mental health professional, or order social services to conduct an investigation.

Our Child Custody Lawyer in Long Island Can Help Grandparents Pursue Custody

If you are a grandparent and have been denied visitation with your grandchild or you feel as though the parents are unfit, our Long Island child custody lawyer can help. At the Law Office of Joshua Adam Kittenplan, P.C., our seasoned attorney can help you prove your case and guide you through the process so you have the best chance of a positive outcome. Call us now at 631-499-0606 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.


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