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Can grandparents or siblings be granted visitation?

New York families may appear to be increasingly complex. With stepparents come entirely new sides of the family, and who should be able to see a child and when may become confusing. Some grandparents or even older siblings may begin to feel left out of a child's life that they were previously heavily involved in. In certain situations, those family members can pursue visitation rights of a grandchild. 

As with almost all custody and visitation issues, the best interest of the child is taken into consideration when determining whether a grandparent should be involved in their life. Additionally, grandparents may even be asked to demonstrate that at least one of the grandchild's parents has died. The culmination of the child's best interest and parental status must then require that legal involvement is necessary.

Seeking visitation as an older sibling may be somewhat easier than as a grandparent. All that is required is that the best interests of the child requires visitation with a sibling and that legal intervention is necessary. When parents divorce and siblings or half-siblings are separated, it is possible that contact between the two may be either purposely or accidentally limited in some way. In other instances, a sibling who has since left the home may have access to the younger sibling severed by parents, while other circumstances involve siblings who have been separated by foster care or adoption. 

Ultimately, no matter whether a parent, grandparent or sibling is seeking visitation with a child, that child's best interest is usually at the heart of the decision. However, it is up to the courts whether visitation will actually benefit the child or not. New York grandparents may find that seeking legal intervention for visitation rights to a child may be more difficult than it would be for a sibling, but it is nonetheless still possible.

Source: womenslaw.org, "Custody", , Sept. 20, 2014

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