Can a Grandparent obtain Custody of the child?

In this video, I answer the common question: Can a Grandparent gain custody over the child?

In Bennett v. Jeffereys, the New York Court of Appeals ruled that a non-biological parent, such as a grandparent, may only obtain custody over a biological parent if two conditions are established.

First, the New York Court of Appeals stressed that a grandparent seeking custody must establish that “extraordinary circumstances” exist which require the New York court to order custody with the grandparent over the biological parent. Extraordinary circumstances are present where the child is abandoned; a parent signed a legal document stating the child may be adopted; a parent neglected or abused the child; a parent is being or has been deported; a parent is in prison for a long time; or other serious acts which may affect the child’s well-being.

Once extraordinary circumstances are established, the court must find that granting custody to the grandparent would be in the child’s best interest. The “best interest of the child” standard is fact specific and highly dependent on the quality of the attorney making the arguments. New York courts will look to all relevant factors including the grandparent’s financial information; health and age. Courts in New York have great discretion to examine many more factors beyond those limited here. Additionally, New York courts, depending on the child’s age, may ask the child what he or she believes to suit his or her best interest.

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