Most custody battles involve disputes between a child’s parents--usually within the context of a divorce. The court will make a custody and parenting time determination which is in the best interests of the child.
However, there are times when grandparents may seek to interject themselves into the custody process--usually where the child’s home is no longer intact, either because of divorce or separation or, perhaps, the death of a parent. Given that our courts do not view parents and grandparents as “equals” in this custody context, in order to have a viable claim the grandparent must show that a “particular identifiable harm” will befall the child in the absence of grandparent visitation.
If the grandparent can establish this “proof-of-harm” showing, then our courts will undertake a “best interest” analysis to determine the visitation details. This can be a complex process and may involve the participation of mental health professionals. Needless to say, the expertise of a family law attorney could be critically important to any grandparent who finds themself in this situation.
If you have any questions about your custody and/or visitation rights as a grandparent, be sure to contact a member of the Cohn Lifland Pearlman Herrmann & Knopf LLP family law team.