As a New York grandparent, a time may come when you want to establish legal custody over your grandchild. Maybe your grandchild’s parents are behind bars, or perhaps you have concerns about one or both parents abusing alcohol or drugs. Regardless of your reasoning for wanting custody of your grandchild, however, you will need to demonstrate certain things in order to be successful in your effort.
First, you will need to determine whether you have the consent of your grandchild’s parents to assume custody over your grandchild. If your grandchild’s parents voluntarily give up rights to raising him or her, the court will typically see this as an “extraordinary circumstance,” and this may be valid grounds for giving you, the grandparent, custody.
When parents do not consent
In circumstances where your grandchild’s parents do not consent to you taking over custody, you may still be able to do so if you can prove that there are extraordinary circumstances that warrant the custody change. For example, maybe you are wishing to take over custody because you have fears about child abuse in the home, or maybe there are other circumstances at play that prevent the parents from being able to effectively raise your grandchild. In such situations, you can typically count on the court making custody-related decisions based on what it feels would be in “the best interests of the child.”
Defining “best interests of the child”
What types of factors play a role in determining the best interests of the child? You can anticipate that the court will consider your grandchild’s age and, if appropriate, your grandchild’s own preferences with regard to custody. The court will generally also consider whether the people requesting custody have the means and psychological stability needed to provide and care for the child.
In summary, New York grandparents who have cause to seek custody may be able to find success if they can demonstrate that living with them would, in fact, be in a child’s best interests.