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Monday, May 23, 2016

Court of Appeals Construes "Extended Disruption of Custody", in Domestic Relations Law § 72 (2), in Favor of Grandparents finding they have Standing to Seek Custody

In Suarez v Williams, --- N.E.3d ----, 2015 WL 8788195 (N.Y.), 2015 N.Y. Slip Op. 09231, the Court of Appeals, in an opinion by Judge Leslie Stein, held that grandparents may demonstrate  standing to seek custody, pursuant to Domestic Relations Law § 72 (2) and the Court’s decision in Matter of Bennett v Jeffreys (40 NY2d 543 [1976])  based on extraordinary circumstances where the child has lived with the grandparents for a prolonged period of time, even if the child had contact with, and spent time with, a parent while the child lived with the grandparents. In addition, a parent need not relinquish all care and control of the child. Even if the parent exercises some control over the child, for example during visitation, a parent may still, as a general matter, have voluntarily relinquished care and control of the child to the grandparent to the extent that the grandparent is, in essence, acting as a parent with primary physical custody.

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