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Understanding grandparent visitation rights

Becoming a grandparent can be an exciting time in a person's life. Whether it is your first grandchild or fifth, you likely want to remain present in your grandchild's life. Unfortunately, events in life can strain a grandparent-grandchild relationship. Divorce can create distance between a parent and their in-laws. This could even result in major disputes arising. Such a situation could cause a grandparent to lose time with a grandchild, especially when a custodial parent believes that it is best for his or her child to no longer spend time with this grandparent.

Grandparent visitation rights are a fairly new area in family law of child custody disputes. In fact, these legal matters did not exist 40 years ago. The idea behind the laws that govern grandparent visitation rights is to allow non-parents the legal right to visit a child. New York and every other state have their own laws that govern this matter, setting guidelines for allowing visitation to be granted for grandparents.

Grandparents' rights can be restrictive or permissive. In restrictive states, visitation is only awarded if the parents have divorced or one or both parents are deceased. In contrast, permissive states allow a grandparent to seek visitation if both parents are alive or still married. In these matters, however, the court will consider whether to order visitation based on the best interests of the child.

If you seek to obtain or protect your grandparent visitation rights, it is important to understand these matters and how you are able to assert your rights. Because they involve a child or children, it can be a sensitive and emotional matter. Thus, it is important to ensure that your actions align with the best interests of the child.

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