Upstate NY, USA here.

What legal visitation (and other) rights do grandparents have with their minority (< 18) grandchildren?

If a parent does not want their child to have a relationship with the child's grandparents, can the grandparents sue/petition for certain visitation rights?

1 Answer 1


A summary of grandparent visitation laws by state can be found here. The general rule is that it is whatever is in the interest of the child, and a judge determines that. In New York you may petition for visitation rights if one or both of the parents are dead, or there are "special circumstances". In E.S. v P.D. it was held that state law "does not create an absolute or automatic right of visitation", but it does create a "procedural mechanism for grandparents to acquire standing to seek visitation with a minor grandchild" (usually, grandparents do not have standing). In the particular case the grandmother had automatic standing owing to the death of her daughter.

  • Awesome answer, thanks @user6726 (+1) - can you elborate on what is meant by "*standing*"? For example: "...but it does create a 'procedural mechanism for grandparents to acquire standing to seek visitation...'"? Thanks again!
    – smeeb
    May 11, 2016 at 15:49
  • Also, very important, in that link your provided above to the summary of grandparent rights by state, under New York it states: "A court may grant visitation rights if at least one of the child's parents is deceased or if the court finds that equity demands intervention based on the circumstances of the case." My question is: what do they mean by equity? Do they mean that if the grandparent has demonstrable "equity" paying for living expenses and childcare, etc.?
    – smeeb
    May 11, 2016 at 16:42
  • "Standing" means "has the right to bring a case". For example I don't have the right to petition for custody of an unknown child living with both non-abusive parents in another state. It's not that the judge would decide denying my case isn't strong enough, it means I can't even waste the court's time.
    – user6726
    May 11, 2016 at 16:43
  • Here's one answer to what "equity" is: dictionary.law.com/Default.aspx?selected=646, and another (longer): en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equity_%28law%29. Approximate synonyms are "justice", "fairness": it's like porn -- judges recognize it when they see it.
    – user6726
    May 11, 2016 at 16:48

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