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Grandparents’ Rights and Custody Issues


Grandparents who are raising their grandchildren face many practical, legal issues. Grandchildren who live with grandparents for periods of time are impacted on by a variety of the laws in the State of New York. Issues involving custody, visitation with the parents, who has custody of the grandchildren long term, where the grandchildren go to school, medical insurance for the grandchildren, child support issues between the parents and the grandparents are just some of the legal issues grandparents face. Is a grandparent authorized to make medical decisions for a grandchild?

Limitations Placed on Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Grandparents who are raising their grandchildren do not necessarily have a legal right to make decisions involving a variety of issues concerning the health and general welfare of their grandchildren. For a grandparent to have legal authority over a grandchild the grandparent must obtain a court order. Physical custody is not the same as legal custody. If the children simply live with the grandparents they have what is commonly referred to as physical custody. However, the fact the grandchildren reside with the grandparents does not give them legal rights to make decisions regarding the grandchildren’s health care and school issues. Grandparents must bring a case in the Family Court to obtain temporary custody of their grandchildren. This will put them in a position where they can make decisions involving significant issues for their grandchildren. When a court grants a grandparent legal custody the grandparents then have legal authority to make decisions concerning the health and general welfare of the grandchildren.

Temporary Power of Attorney

In situations where the parents are cooperating, a temporary power of attorney can be given by the parent to the grandparents. This temporary power of attorney would give the grandparents temporary authority to make specifically delineated decisions on behalf of the grandchildren. The temporary power of attorney gives the grandparents specific legal rights that are clearly enunciated in the power of attorney. An example of these types of provisions may involve a grandchild travelling with a grandparent to another state or country and the grandparent is given authority during this trip to make medical decisions for their grandchildren. It should be noted the power of attorney can be revoked by the parents and has no impact on the legal rights of the parents to maintain custody of their children.


Adoption is a permanent route for grandparents to exercise both parental rights and responsibilities over a grandchild. In essence, once the grandparents adopt the grandchild the grandparents now become the parents of the grandchild. Adoptions by a grandparent can be on consent of the parent or can be done in situations where the parents don’t consent but they have been found to be unfit, incapable or have deserted their children.


Elliot S. Schlissel, Esq. has been working for grandparents’ rights with regard to issues concerning custody and visitation of their grandchildren for more than 3 decades. He can be reached at 800-344-6431 or e-mailed at

Grandparent’s Visitation Rights in New York State

grandparents rights attorney in New YorkThe 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.

family law attorneyElliot 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.

The Grandparents’ Custody Lawyer – Part II

grandparents custody lawyersChildren’s Best Interests

There are a variety of factors which can be considered by a court when looking into whether the children’s best interests would require the grandparents to receive custody of their grandchildren. Some of these factors are:

  • whether the parents have drug or alcohol issues
  • whether there is physical abuse taking place between the parents themselves, or between the parents and the children
  • whether a child or the children have a problem living with the parents
  • whether there is mental abuse taking place between the parents in their residence and/or between the parents and the children
  • who shows the love, affection and nurturing nature that will contribute to the best interests of the children
  • do the natural parents have the ability to provide a safe residence, appropriate food and clothing for the children
  • have the parents provided appropriate medical care for their children
  • who would the children prefer to live with (this becomes a more important factor as the children grow older).


Grandparents are an incredible, unique resource for their grandchildren. Every grandchild should have loving grandparents in addition to having loving parents. However, in situations where the children’s best interests may require legal intervention by the grandparents, grandparents who are willing to take responsibility for their grandchildren, can literally save their grandchildren’s lives. An important step in bringing legal proceedings is retaining an experienced, dedicated law firm to represent the grandparents in these proceedings. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo have more than 100 years of combined legal experience negotiating and litigating grandparents’ rights issues.>grandparents rights attorney

The Grandparents’ Custody Lawyer – Part I

Grandparents' rights lawyerWhen Grandparents Want Custody of Their Grandchildren

Grandparents are an invaluable resource for their grandchildren. There are a number of situations which would be in the children’s best interest for the grandparents to seek custody of their grandchildren. Situations where the parents are abusive, neglectful, unavailable, incarcerated, or upon the death of one of the parents and the unavailability of the other, are examples of those situations where a grandparent can step in and seek custody of grandchildren. If grandparents do not step in, as in the aforementioned examples, the custody of their grandchildren will be given to foster parents. Foster parents may be kind, loving individuals but they will not be blood relatives of the children.

Grandparents’ Custody Litigation

Sometimes, grandparents have to litigate with their own children to obtain custody of the grandchildren. Parental rights to custody assumes it is in the children’s best interests to be raised by one or both of their parents. When a grandparent takes legal action to obtain custody of their grandchildren, they must show to the court it is in the children’s best interest they raise the children instead of the biological parent or parents of the children. The issue concerning parental rights is a barrier which grandparents must overcome by proving either unfitness, unavailability, or other reasons why the natural parents should not be the residential custodial parents of their children.grandparents rights attorney

Grandmother Prevails in Custody Dispute with Father

Grandparents' rights lawyerIn a recent case from Sullivan County, New York, Family Court Judge Mark Meddaugh awarded a grandmother sole custody of her grandson. The Family Court Judge awarded the grandmother sole custody because she had established “extraordinary circumstances necessary to overcome the father’s inherently superior rights to custody.”

Erica BB and Marcus CC were the parent’s of a boy who was born in 1997. Initially, Erica and Marcus had stipulated to an order giving Erica sole custody of their son. The father had visitation with the boy. Erica and the boy moved to North Carolina for a year and thereafter returned to New York. Erica and the child moved back in with the father and they lived together for about a year. Thereafter Erica moved in with the maternal grandmother. However, Erica had her own apartment and the boy lived with his grandmother, Maria DD.

Erica Is Indicted

In 2011, Erica was indicted. She was charged with aggravated driving while her ability was impaired by drugs. At the time of the indictment, both the father and grandmother had applied for custody of the boy.

Grandmothers Custody Award Is Appealed By Father

The appeal of this matter was heard by the Third Department, an Appellate Court located in Albany, New York. The Appellate Court affirmed the decision of the Sullivan County Family Court awarding the grandmother sole custody. They found the boy had lived with his grandmother for approximately 10 years and had a close relationship with her. The Appellate Court took into consideration the father had been aware for several years the child’s mother was not capable of caring for the child. They felt he should have exercised his parental obligations and brought a custody proceeding several years earlier. They were concerned the father had waited until Erica was arrested before he brought his custody petition.

The Court said in its opinion, “In our view, this acknowledgment is significant in that it demonstrates that the father knowingly allowed the child to reside with the grandmother without attempting to assume the primary parental role under the circumstances in which it would have been reasonable in which to do so.” The Court went on to find “the father’s involvement with the child has been inconsistent and he is unfamiliar with the basic details of the child’s life, which, in our review represents a substantial abdication of his parental responsibilities.”

Dissent In The Case

Two Judges on the Appellate panel dissented. They stated “there is no viable claim here that the father surrendered, abandoned or persistently neglected the child nor was there any evidence that he was an unfit parent.”custody attorney to assist

Grandparents Seek Visitation with Grandchildren

grand-150x150In a case before Supreme Court Justice Janowitz, sitting in Nassau County, grandparents brought a proceeding seeking visitation with regard to their three grandchildren. The children’s parents asked Judge Janowitz to dismiss the case. They claimed the grandparents lacked standing to bring this proceeding.

The grandparents’ petition argued that they had enjoyed a good relationship with their grandchildren, but that the parents have cut off all visitation since January of 2010. The grandparents claim the cut off was without justification.

The parents argued that the grandparents behaved inappropriately and therefore they would not permit them to have access to their children. They claim the grandparents filed a false Child Protection Services report against them. The report was investigated and Child Protective Services found it to be unsubstantiated.

Court Finds For Grandparents

Justice Janowitz stated in his decision that where there is an established relationship between the grandparents and the grandchildren, the court would look into the basis of the parents’ decision to cut off this relationship. Justice Janowitz felt that mere animosity or bad feelings between the parties was not a valid reason, under Domestic Relations Law Section 72(1), for cutting off grandparents access to their grandchildren. Justice Janowitz ordered a forensic evaluation to determine if the parents’ allegations against the grandparents were true.

Grandparents’ Rights and Fathers’ Rights

Grandparents should have the right to develop a relationship with their grandchildren. Grandparents and fathers play important roles in children’s lives and their rights are protected by the law in New York. We litigate all types of fathers’ rights issues, including divorce, orders of protection, custody, visitation, child support, spousal maintenance (alimony), child abuse and child neglect proceedings. We defend fathers involved in paternity proceedings, and we also represent fathers who seek annulments.

In divorce situations, we litigate equitable distribution issues, relocation problems, parental alienation and parental alienation syndrome issues. We also negotiate pre-nuptial, post-nuptial and separation agreements.

Father Charged with Sexual Abuse Exonerated

Judge Greenberg, sitting in the Family Court of Nassau County, rendered a decision on January 21, 2010, dismissing child abuse proceedings against a father. The petition against the father alleged that he had committed sexual offenses regarding his daughter Isabella. The charges alleged he would rub lotion on her, “slap her butt” and “whistle at her.”

The father denied all of the allegations. There was testimony by a psychologist at the time of trial. The psychologist stated that Isabella admitted to lying and sometimes believing her own lies. The psychologist also stated that Isabella had difficulty distinguishing between fantasy and reality.

Sexual Abuse Allegations are Unsupported

Judge Greenberg found the Department of Social Services did not establish that the father had sexually abused his daughter. The court’s decision indicated that Isabella’s statements were motivated by her desire to live on Long Island. The child did not want to move to the father’s residence in Queens. Isabella’s testimony was inconsistent and not credible. The court believed the testimony was an effort to stop the father from being successful in his custody application.

New York Fathers’ Rights Attorney

The Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo litigates fathers’ rights issues. We have extensive experience in handling the following fathers’ rights related matters: divorce; orders of protection; child support; child custody; visitation; spousal maintenance (alimony); child abuse, child neglect; CPS and ACS proceedings; applications to reduce child support; child abuse defense hearings; paternity and no-fault divorce issues. We also litigation equitable distribution matters in divorces and grandparents’ rights issues. Feel free to call us for a free consultation.

When Do You Get the Engagement Ring Back?

ringIn a case this past summer, Justice Dickerson, a Supreme Court Judge sitting in Rockland County, New York, ordered a Hassidic woman to return a hundred-thousand dollar engagement ring to her betrothed. The man claimed he didn’t know when he gave her the ring at a religious wedding ceremony that she was still married to someone else. The woman appealed this decision. The Appellate Division of the Second Department held that this was a question of fact as to whether he knew she was married or not and it should have been decided after a trial, not on a motion for summary judgment. New York Civil Rights law section 80-b deals with the return of engagement rings. Larry Lipschultz gave his fiancee, Nadia Kinderman, a six carrot diamond ring in the summer of 2006. Thereafter, the Hassidic couple were married in an Orthodox Jewish wedding ceremony. Thereafter Mr. Lipschultz learned that his wife never obtained a civil divorce from her first husband. To say he was unhappy about this would be an understatement. They separated on September 13, 2007, less then a year after they were married. Mr. Libschultz thereafter filed an action demanding either $150,000 in cash or the return of the ring. He claimed that, under New York Civil Rights Law section 80-b, he was entitled to the recovery of the ring given as an engagement present on the basis of being in consideration for marriage.  His wife claimed he knew all along she was still married and therefore she should be entitled to keep the ring. The issue presented was whether he knew that she was not legally divorced. If he had knowledge of this, then the court could be justified in allowing his wife to keep the ring. The moral to this story is don’t buy a six carrot, $100,000 to $150,000 engagement ring. Two carrots would have been more than enough!


Fathers’ Rights Lawyer

We negotiate pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements for our client. In cases where our clients are professionals, have assets or have been previously married, we aggressively litigate all issues dealing with our clients’ high net worth statuses. We also deal with obtaining child custody for our clients. When our clients solely seek visitation, we see to it that they have liberal visitation. Child support and spousal maintenance issues (alimony) are significant issues that must be dealt with in all divorces. We see to that our clients’ rights are protected concerning these issues. Should allegations of domestic violence arise, we very aggressively litigate these issues and protect our clients’ rights and privileges. We also deal with issues concerning paternity, relocation problems, parental alienation and parental alienation syndrome issues. We also try to avoid litigation and negotiate separation agreements for our clients. Sometimes grandparents are cut off in divorces. In these cases, we litigate grandparents’ rights issues for our clients. Call us for a free consultation.

Are Back Taxes Shared in a Divorce? Maybe Not!

father1-150x1503This past summer, acting Supreme Court Judge Andrew A. Crecca, in the case of Maria C. vs. Dominick C., under Index No.: 04775/08, dealt with issues involving back taxes and equitable distribution in a divorce. The couple had been married in 1987. They had four children. The husband had a home improvement corporation and the wife was a secretary. In 2008, the husband was served with divorce papers. The basis for the divorce was constructive abandonment of the wife by the husband.

Case Scheduled for Trial

After the preliminary proceedings were concluded, Judge Crecca scheduled the case for an equitable distribution trial. Shortly before the trial, the husband unilaterally filed marital tax returns for the years 2004 through 2007. The amended returns showed that husband had earned $100,600 in previously unreported income during this period.

Judge Crecca stated in his decision, “the court sees no legitimate reason for this outrageous and despicable conduct, which the court finds is based solely on malice and revenge, with no other goal then prevent his wife from any recovery in equitable distribution. Accordingly, as a result of such shocking and egregious conduct on the part of the defendant-husband, the court declined to allocate any of the tax liability to the plaintiff-wife in connection with the amended personal returns and directs that the defendant-husband should bare full responsibility for any such additional tax liability.”

The wife’s attorney commented, with regard to this decision, that the Internal Revenue Service is not bound by decisions of state courts. However, they “will give it the appropriate wait.” He further stated that the husbands failure to settle the tax debt “showed the vindictiveness and vengeance of the strategy.”

Fathers’ Rights

The Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo aggressively represents fathers. We defend fathers’ rights regarding divorce, orders of protection, child custody, child visitation, child support, spousal maintenance (alimony), child abuse, child neglect and paternity proceedings. We also deal with relocation agreements, grandparents’ rights issues and the drafting of separation agreements. In cases involving parental alienation, we litigate issues related to parental alienation syndrome and how it affects fathers. Feel free to call us for a free consultation at 1-800-344-6431, 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802.

Men Who Raise Their Children

wayneSarah Palin has introduced the phrase to the American vernacular of “man-up”.  The man-up phrase being utilized by right-wing Republicans brings back a type of nostalgia concerning the role of men in society.  It refers to a time when men, in business and politics, followed the John Wayne “tough-guy” roles.  These type of men could grab a rifle, get on their horse and take care of business.

Does “Man-Up” Include Raising Children?

Is a man who spends quality time with his children a real man? Today’s fathers need to be sensitive to their childrens’ needs. There are more women working in our society.  Fathers have assumed a greater responsibility for child care.  Fathers today drive their children to soccer, to school events and to doctor appointments.  Fathers participate in maintaining their households.  They go to the grocery store, they cook dinner for their children and put their children to sleep at night.  Fathers participating in their childrens’ lives have made them more equal partners with their wives in raising their children.  The “manning-up” type of fathers that Sarah Palin talks about should not be considered in what defines manhood.  Men and fathers who assist their children and other family members and participate in household duties, as well as working for a living, are the true heros of the twenty-first century.


Fathers’ Rights Lawyers

We are Fathers’ Rights attorneys.  We represent fathers in divorces, child custody and visitation proceedings, as well as child support matters.  We help fathers who have been falsely charged with child abuse and child neglect.  We help fathers deal with Orders of Protection obtained by woman on an ex parte basis (without fathers having their day in court).  We downwardly modify child support orders.  We also can assist grandparents concerning grandparents’ rights cases.  Feel free to call us for a consultation at 1-800-344-6431; 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802.

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