Mothering Forum banner

Court Ordered Grandparent Visitation

1607 Views 28 Replies 24 Participants Last post by  bookwitch
I am looking for feedback, insight and supporters. My husband and I are currently in a court battle in NY with my parents suing us for visitation with our 3 biological children. Our life is very surreal at times as a result of this. Please read the letter that I have written to my local assemblyman. I have gained his support and he has expressed his extreme concern with this law and is willing to help me in any way he can. There are laws in all 50 states which allow grandparents, other relatives and even just friends and neighbors seek visitation with your children. I feel this is such an intrusion into my life and my right to raise my children as I see fit without state interference. I would appreciate any feedback, questions or suggestions.

Dear Assemblyman,

I am writing to you to express my concern regarding New York Domestic Relations Law 72. At the present time my family and I are being faced with a lawsuit brought on by my parents, the petitioners, for Grandparent Visitation. There is a long story here, I will not share it all with you, but just give you an overview.

After a lifetime of control, physical, and emotional abuse toward me and 10 years of the petitioners belittling my husband, home, and lifestyle we decided we have had enough. We severed all contact with them. We have decided that our lives are better in so many ways without them involved.

My husband and I have been married for 10 years and have 3 children. Grace is 10 years old and is in 4th grade. Eddie is 3 and little Trevor is 5 months.

We have not seen or spoken with the petitioners in almost 2 years. Grace has a past relationship with them, but has expressed to us and her court appointed law guardian that she does not want to see them ever again. Eddie does not know who they are, and they found out about their newest grandson, Trevor, through our court affidavits.

My parents have decided that litigation was the best answer and have served us with a petition for visitation. We are firmly against any visitation with our children and the petitioners. We feel as parents it is our duty to our children as well as our constitutional right to decide who our children associate with. Because of the lack of protection under DRL 72 we, an intact, loving family are being hauled into court by controlling Grandparents who are not even residents of NY state. This has already cost us $20K+ on lawyers and we are in the process of cashing out all the equity in our home to pay for additional court appearances, the trial and possibly an appeal.

The emotional trauma this has created in our lives is unbearable. Our daughter Grace, an otherwise well adjusted normal 4th grader is now attending regular therapy sessions. I am in therapy, and at times I find my life so surreal and insufferable.

My husband and I are hard working people. We supported one another through school. He is now a successful airplane captain and I am a registered nurse working for St. Francis Hospital as a community health nurse. We are respected in our community, are active in our children's lives and are good, concerned, loving parents.

I find it so hard to believe that the state can intrude into our personal lives, and place such a heavy burden on us. Our constitutionally protected rights to the care, custody and control of our children are being compromised and hashed around in court when we have done nothing wrong.

Domestic Relations Law 72 is very vague in many ways. An example is the determination of "standing" and "where equity sees fit to intervene", are very indistinct. New York is the only state in the United States with this sentence in its Grandparent Visitation Statute, and what it does is allow any Judge to decide what they might deem "equitable circumstances in which to intervene". Much of the time, it's because they personally "feel" grandparents should have visitation. The judge on our case has openly expressed on the record that he is a firm believer in grandparent's rights. I am concerned that the judge's open admissions of his personal beliefs will be cast upon our case.

As our representative, we are asking for your assistance and support in any way with this matter. Can you help us to change this law so that other fit parents are not subjected to the heavy burden of unnecessary litigation?

Very Sincerely,

Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

See less See more
1 - 20 of 29 Posts
Oh no, this is one of my personal nightmares. (Long story, not going to go there now.) I'm sorry you're going through this. What I have read indicates that current case law is on your side--the Supreme Court's decision in Troxel Vs Granville was in favor of the parent, if you haven't already read about that. But that doesn't mean that horrible, selfish grandparents can't go ahead and waste your time and money and the court's time anyhow. Ugh.

I would think at the very least they couldn't force visitation for the children who don't even remember/know the grandparents. I mean how on earth could that possibly be "in the best interest of the child"? This stuff makes me so angry.
OMG! I am so sorry you are having to go through this. I fear this also since I told my mother and father that I did not want contact. This law is an insult to parents and our right to raise our children. We know best if who the grandparents are so let us make the choice if we want that for our children. Shouldn't we be able to right the mistakes of the past? How can we do that if the courts shove it down our kids throats.
Your are right in the case law is on our side, but we have a judge who has openly expressed on the record that "kids need their grandparents, and I am a firm believer in grandparents rights".

At this time we are scheduled to see a court ordered therapist, even though we each have our own therapist. This therapist has been ordered by the court to try to find a "soft spot" so that visitation can be ordered. He sent us a contract yesterday that states the typical therapeutic relationship will be void in this situation and he has the right to discuss our situation with the petitioners as well as interview other friends, family, people at the school, pediatrician etc...he may also order psychological evaluations of us. I feel so invaded. I am refusing to sign the contract. We are to meet him next Thursday and then be back in court on Monday 4/17.

It is crazy the way we are being treated, like criminals and we have done nothing wrong other than make a decision in the best interest of our children and family. Now we have all of these complete strangers making decisions about our life and our children. We plan to fight to the bloody end and appeal if necessary. If we loose on appeal we will move out of the husband is very against this though as he feels they would be winning if we did that. I just want to be free of them!

See less See more
I am so sorry that you and your family are going through this (((hugs))) I hope that you and your husband prevail. It is plain wrong for a court to order who your child must associate with and take your right to make these decisions yourself. I am in your corner.
What a nightmare come true. I am so sorry and will be thinking of you and your family and hoping the system does not fail you. Stay strong.
I fear this as well. I am so sorry this is happening to you, I hope you find the support and answers you need.
I am so sorry this is happening to you. I hope you win and can continue to parent your children without the govt and these people invading your lives.
To Mom2-3 (((((((hugs)))))))

More generally, would pressing charges in cases of abuse help in situations like this? Should people who simpy cut off contact from their parents because of horrible behavior actually be taking them to court to create a paper trail?
Hugs to you, mama. I feel this as well. I will be thinking of your family.
Thanks for all your support! I spoke with another Mom in NY last night who is being sued by her Mother. She also has the attention of her local assemblyman so we are hoping to bring them together and get them to sponsor a bill to change this law. I have found that putting my energy into trying to reach out to political officials is a good way to direct the anger. I really hope to make a difference so no other families have to be abused by the courts and family that they deem harmful to their way of life again.
This "law" is absolutely disgusting. As someone who has cut off contact from my abusive mother and step-father, years ago, I often worry that they will show up one day throwing around their "right" to see the grandchildren they have never met.

How horrible, that the innocent should have to live in fear of having their families shattered. As parents, we have a DUTY to keep our children safe. If that means cutting out toxic people from our lives, that should be our choice. It's shocking that the courts are allowed to meddle into personal family disputes.

I feel ill.

I truly hope that this issue is resolved for you.
See less See more
What a nightmare! I have nothing to add that hasn't been said but just wanted to say we'll be thinking you and your family. Stay strong!

You are very correct to say that the laws governing grandparent supervision are fuzzy to say the least. The link above is about a case the case that went to scotus (supreme court of the united states). I too am concerned that I could be hauled into court because of visitation issues with grandparents- not that it is an issue at all with my family. It is the mere fact that the state/government can decide who my children can see, as if I myself am a child incapable of making a sound decision over such an important matter. I can hardly imagine a situation where someone would not want their kids to see their grandparents without some heavy duty reasons. I don't understand how a court can think this was a decision without alot of thought and soul searching.
I really feel for you. this is also my nightmare, with DH's mom & stepfather. we cut off contact last August, LUCKILY haven't heard/seen them since- THANK GOD every day for that. I would be literallly phsycially sick to my stomach if I were you. IMO, those laws should never exist. The few people that could benefit it from it just do not outweigh the enormous damage and horror it causes to people like us. I too would move out of the country if you lost. nothing- NOTHING - is worse than knowing your child is in danger.
I am so shocked by this! I had no idea...and, frankly, I'm surprised the courts aren't viewing this as harassment from your parents, since in two years no other attempt has been made, just all of a sudden this lawsuit! I'm hoping this turns out in your favor, but in the mean time, I'm so sorry you and your family are going through this. I agree with the above, most people cut ties with their parents for VERY GOOD REASONS, not just because...
Your are right in the case law is on our side, but we have a judge who has openly expressed on the record that "kids need their grandparents, and I am a firm believer in grandparents rights".

Fire him and get a new judge. He's already shown bias and that's unethical on his part. We went through about 5 different judges for one case so I know it can be done. Ask your lawyer how it works.
Your attorney should file a motion asking the judge to recuse himself. This would at least preserve the issue for appeal, even if the judge refuses to recuse himself.

Your attorney should also file an opposition to the court-ordered exams to preserve the issue for appeal.

My understanding of NY law on this issue is that Troxel v. Granville did not automatically invalidate the NY statute, but requires grandparents to prove they have standing either because a parent dies, or because of special circumstances. They don't get to prove there are special circumstances by forcing you and your children to go through court ordered psych exams. Grandparents in NY have won on appeal when they have been heavily involved in the children's lives up until they were denied visitation. They have never been awarded visitation where they have never met the grandchild.

Ugh, this whole thing has me incensed. Would you like any support in your letter-writing campaign? I am sure that your local representatives only read mail from NY residents. Perhaps you could create some sort of form letter or letter outline that you could post under the NY Tribal Area forum and ask residents to send letters in your support...?

Good luck, and let us out-of-NY-staters know if we can be of any help.
See less See more
Is there any way you can move out of state? It does sound like a total nightmare, and vy surreal as you said. Beyond frustrating. Good luck with this.
I am so sorry this is happening to you! My mother threatened to sue us for grandparent visitation rights about nine years ago. It was hell.

I wish you moments of peace.
1 - 20 of 29 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.