I would like to get some opinions about court ordered grandparent visitation. My husband and I are presently being sued by my parents for visitation with our 3 children. I am posting the letter that I have been sending to our local lawmakers. I would love to generate some discussion on this topic as well as educate families what can happen and how devistating it can be.
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?
Again, I really want to get the insight of other parents.