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Where either or both parents of a minor child, residing within New York State, is or are deceased, or where circumstances show that conditions exist which equity would see fit to intervene, a grandparent or the grandparents of such child may apply to the Supreme Court or Family Court for visitation rights.

In addition, where a grandparent can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Court the existence of extraordinary circumstances, they also will be granted visitation rights in either Supreme Court or Family Court. This has been the standard in New York State for some time. In fact, in a recent case a Family Court granted the paternal grandmother not only parenting time, but primary physical custody of the children. This order was affirmed by the Appellate Division as the grandmother demonstrated the existence of extraordinary circumstances.

However a law, recently proposed in New York, threatens to impair severely grandparents' rights and may even mandate that an unsuccessful grandparent would have to pay attorneys’s fees to the party opposing the application. We will be following this law and writing an updated article in the near future.