Grandparent Visitation Terminated for NY Couple

Stressful visits and continued estrangement constitute a “change of circumstances” permitting the termination of grandparent visitation.

The grandparents sought visitation with the children of their estranged daughter. The daughter and her husband agreed to permit some visitation. However, they claimed that the visits were an “unmitigated disaster”, creating enormous stress. The police had to be summoned to remove the grandparents after one visit. The parents sought to end the visitation, arguing that the increasing animosity between the parties constituted a “change of circumstances.” The New York Court of Appeals found that after the commencement of visitation, the already strained relationship between the parents and grandparents further deteriorated. The court noted that grandparents do not have an absolute or automatic right to visitation and that extraordinary circumstances are not a prerequisite to obtain a modification; rather, the standard ultimately to be applied remains the best interests of the child when all of the applicable factors are considered.

Although the Court recognized the value of the relationship between children and their grandparents, this interest must yield where the circumstances-including the worsening relationship and the strenuous objection to grandparent visitation by both parents – render the continuation of visitation not in the child’s best interest.