New York parents and grandparents who have questions about child custody should be aware of regional custody laws. In some regions, grandparents are allowed to petition a court for custody of their grandchildren. Even if the court does not award custody, grandparents may petition a court order for visitation rights when the parents do not allow them to see their grandchildren. However, not all regions have statutes that protect grandparents' rights, and national laws generally protect parents' rights to raise their children without interference. Many courts consider grandparent child custody an infringement of parental rights.
When determining whether to award custody to grandparents, courts take the relationship between parents and their children into consideration. The courts will generally presume that the parents should not lose custody unless the grandparents are able to prove that the child would be better off with them. For example, when parents are neglectful, courts may award custody to the grandparents. However, some regions have put laws in place that limit grandparents' custody rights.
Even in regions with strict parental rights protections, there are certain factors that may lead a court to award custody to the grandparents. For example, if the parents are unable to properly care for the children, and the grandparents could provide a suitable home, the grandparents may be awarded custody. In the case of parental death or parental abuse, the grandparents may also be granted custody.
Parents and grandparents who are concerned about child custody laws may consider working with an attorney with experience in divorce and family law. An attorney may be able to evaluate the parents' or grandparents' region and determine which laws apply in their individual circumstances.