GRANDPARENTS STILL HAVE RIGHTS IN NEW YORK STATE
by: Mace H. Greenfield, Esq.
The U.S. Supreme Court decision from 2000 does not have any impact on the grandparent visitation law of New York State. That case, Troxel v. Granville, involved a broad Washington State statute which permitted:
‘[a]ny person may petition the court for visitation rights at any time,’ and the courts may grant such visitation rights whenever ‘visitation may serve the best interest of the child.’ *** Once the visitation petition has been filed in court and the matter is placed before a judge, a parent’s decision that visitation would not be in the child’s best interest is accorded no deference. In that case, the grandchildren’s surviving parent would allow visitation to the grandparents with the grandchildren, but for only one day per month. The grandparents petitioned for more time with the grandchildren, two overnight weekends per month and two weeks during the summers. The Court below ignored the fact that the parent of the children assented to visitation prior to the filing of the petition, and placed the burden on the parent to prove it would not be in the best interest of the children. The U.S. Supreme Court compared and contrasted the Washington State law to other State laws for grandparent visitation, which require the grandparent to first be denied visitation by the child’s custodian prior to being able to file such a petition, and which put the burden on the grandparent to show that it is in the child’s best interest, as does New York law. The U.S. Supreme Court, in its majority decision, criticized the Washington State’s Trial Court case as being nothing more than a simple disagreement between the judge and the parent.