The law in New York State authorizes visitation by grandparents if at least one parent is deceased. In addition, grandparents can have visitation with their grandchildren “where circumstances show that conditions exist which equity would see fit to intervene.” This rather unintelligible law also states that all visitation by grandparents with their grandchildren should be in the best interests of the children.
Grandparents Raising Their Grandchildren
Grandparents who have physical custody of their grandchildren without formal court orders face many legal impediments. To start with, the grandparents have no right to enroll their grandchildren in their local school district. In addition, grandparents who do not have court orders are technically not able to make healthcare decisions for their grandchildren.
Powers of Attorney
A parent can give a limited power of attorney to the grandparents giving the grandparents temporary authority to make decisions concerning the health, education, and general welfare of the grandchildren. It should be noted these types of powers of attorney can be revoked by the parent at any time.
Physical Custody vs. Legal Custody
Physical custody simply means the grandchildren reside with the grandparents. Legal custody involves the grandparents obtaining court orders which allow them to make daily decisions regarding their grandchildren’s health, education and welfare. Legal custody may also allow the grandparents to add the grandchildren to their health insurance plans.
The issues involving grandparents related to custody and visitation of the grandchildren can be complex. The best way to deal with these issues is to retain an attorney who handles grandparent’s rights cases.
Elliot S. Schlissel is an attorney practicing throughout the Metropolitan New York area. He has more than 38 years of experience in dealing with issues concerning grandparents seeking visitation and/or custody with their grandchildren.