When grandparents petition for visitation under DRL section 72, the court undertakes a two-part inquiry: first it must find standing based on death or equitable circumstances which permit the court to entertain the petition. If it concludes that the grandparents have established the right to be heard, then it must determine if visitation is in the best interest of the grandchild. Wilson c. McGlinchey, 2 NY3D 375 (2004).
In considering whether a grandparent is entitled to visitation where both parents are alive, the court must first determine whether equitable circumstances exist which provide the grandparent with standing, and if such circumstances exist whether visitation would be in the grandchild’s best interest. Marks v. Cascio, 24 AD3d 566, 808 NYS2d 261 (2nd Dept. 2005).
An essential part of the inquiry in grandparent visitation is whether a meaningful relationship exists between that petitioning grandparent and the child, or in cases where a parent has thwarted the attempts to forge such relationship whether the grandparent made sufficient efforts to establish one. Eggleton v. Clarek, 11 AD3d 459, 782 NYS2d 771 (2nd Dept. 2004).
In Eggleton v. Clarek, the paternal grandmother failed to establish prima facie case for visitation with her grandchildren after their father died; the grandmother had no contact with her son for 22 yrs, during which time her son married and had grandchildren, grandmother had never met her grandchildren, and first attempted to establish a relationship with them after son had dies or at best after her son’s separation from children’s mother.
An essential part of inquiry into whether grandparent visitation is in the child’s best interest is whether a meaningful relationship exists between the petitioning grandparent and the child. Weis v. Riveria, 29 AD3D 812, 814 NYS2D 743 (2dn Dept. 2006)
Grandparents have standing to bring such proceeding where either or both the parents are deceased or where conditions exists which equity would see fit to intervene. In Weis, the Grandmother who sought visitation with the child, despite objection from the parents, established that she made sufficient effort to establish a relationship with grandchild.