Sibling Visitation Rights in New York

Rincker Law Family/Matrimonial Law 23 Comments

There is a presumption that a parent knows what is best for his or her child and can decide who the child sees and when.  When parents divorce, siblings or half-siblings might be split and their relationships might suffer.  In New York, siblings (full-blood and half-blood) have a statutory right to visitation with each other.  This is outlined in New York Domestic Relations Law § 71.  Siblings themselves or a parent, on behalf of minor children, may bring a Petition for Visitation with their siblings.  Courts employ a two-part analysis in evaluating whether or not it will grant sibling visitation.

First, standing must be established.  This means that the petitioner must show that he or she is a proper person to bring the visitation action.  For instance, in Noonan v. Noonan, 145 Misc.2d 638 (1989) a mother petitioned on behalf of her three children (two half-blood siblings and one step-sibling) for visitation with the children of their father’s previous marriage.  The court held that the half-blood siblings had standing to seek visitation, but that the petitioner’s daughter from a previous marriage (with no blood relation to the children at issue) did not have standing.

Second, the court must determine whether the visitation is in the best interest of the child(ren).  This is a common standard throughout matrimonial and family law and is at the court’s discretion.  There are many factors the court considers including, but not limited to, prior relationships with siblings, the reason visitation with the siblings stopped after a divorce, the future benefit of having a relationship with the siblings, the opinion and recommendation of the attorneys for the children, and the preferences of the children expressed during camera interview.   The prior relationship among the children is given considerable weight.  For example, in Isabel R. v. Meghan Mc., 23 Misc. 3d 1102(A) (2009), where there was a strong relationship among the children prior to divorce and the children expressed a strong preference for maintaining their relationship, visitation was granted by the judge and a specific visitation schedule was devised by the court.  On the other hand, in In re Justin H., 215 A.D.2d 180 (1995), where there was no familial bond among the half-siblings, visitation was denied in the case of.

It is important to remember that like Humpty Dumpty, a family, once broken by divorce, cannot be put back together in precisely the same way.  However, siblings’ relationships should not have to suffer as a consequence of their parents’ divorce.  If it is in the best interest of the child(ren) to maintain sibling relationships, the court will see that those relationships continue.

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Comments 23

  1. I have two children currently in foster care. My eight year old was wrongfully adopted and now my husband and I feel that agency as well as foster parent are attempting everything in there power to sabotage the returning of our son. The courts ordered Joshua, my husband and I to have family therapy, which just started at Acermans. I love my sessions and any time I get to see my son. Our weekend visits had been cancelled for a long time due to false allegations brought against my husband and I. Anyways my husband and I are praying that when our son comes home we’ll then apply for sibling visits and hope and pray the judge grants us that much. My children have been raised together since my son was well enough to be released from the hospital they are now eight and seven. These are my thoughts as far as sibling visits I hope were granted the opportunity.

  2. I’m in stueben county southern tier NY, 7th district I think. Mother of 4. Youngest 2 have have sibling brother, sharing same father. I reside with my 4 children, the father mentioned, and until may, my stepson, their brother age 12. Age 4,& 2, my children born into home with brother Jax 13-14 days each month in home. Schedule court ordered in 2010.
    3 petitions, 2 alleged protection orders needed all dismissed and dropped, the mother of brother in my opinion 100% violating best interests alienating child n parent, siblings.
    Recently, I asked mother to let supervision person her choice, between my 2 and brother. Even in her home without me or dad present. Reply was if I leave my home and father of kids then she will allow.
    I’d gladly give details, overwhelming evidence, etc…my children are effected greatly by his absence, note terror of his mom kidnapping them, shooting 2 ur child in front of 4 yr old…and more. What can I do from here

    1. I just took mine to court – ex and wife had no idea his two kids from wife and my son have rights too each other. He needs pay more child support and wife ex addict and could not be bothered with the court. Was doing selling products online and judge had make him call her!!!!
      I agree settle but is discussing things wife. Not much discuss in my opinion – next date court is march 22nd
      I stated if she was concerned could called family court- wife not too intelligent and may be child herself- I told her years ago on facebook text sent attorney letter from attorney with out understanding had go court.
      He is a cop should know all this can transpire !!!! It is insane
      My advice screw her!!! Your kids have rights and hers to them take her court!!!!!

  3. My daughter and her boyfriend have 2 girls ages 7 and 9. They all 4 live together. The boyfriend has 3 older girls ages 23 up to 28. They haven’t lived with their father and my daughter for a couple of years now. They were constantly causing problems between their father and my daughter. They also tell my granddaughters horrid lies about my daughter and tell them their mother isnt part of my granddaughters family. Now they want to go to court and get visitation rights to the girls. Do half sisters have that right in nys?

  4. The court have violated my children’s rights to have sibling visitation with their sister. My question is can I sue for my children’s rights being violated. Also what forms in court could be used for this matter. If one decides to go pro se?

  5. This is not fair at all I’m 16 and I’m suffering from not seeing my half sister and half brother I contacted the mom in the nicest way and she has always shut me down for years my sister and brother go to school wit there cousins and don’t even know there family I feel useless I’m tired of waiting

  6. My situation is that 1 of my 3 biological children has gotten adopted by a foster parent and my question is do the 2 older siblings ages 15 an 16 have rights to see there younger sibling whom is adopted?

  7. Hi my situation involves my 12 year old daughter and her seven-year-old sister who I raisins sense birth I now have custody of my oldest daughter and the mother is now withholding visitations to her little sister and I haven’t been allowed me to see her in over a year since I filed for petition to get my daughter out of a messed up situation now that I won custody of my daughter her mother is no longer allowing her to see her sister when my daughter was the main caretaker for his sister while living with her

  8. My situation is that I am currently pregnant, and the half sibling of my child is only 4 years old. The mother and I have had nothing but problems from the start (shes 21 and i am 26, and the age difference should signify the maturity difference as well). Needless to say there have been a war of words shared from herself, her “fiance”, her sister, and her mother with me. Unfortunately, it got so nasty that her sister actually threatened to physically harm me until I miscarried i.e. she threatened to kill my unborn child. It gets even more complicated that when I called the cops, I had to wait 7 hours for them to tell me that a cop wasn’t coming because they were too busy. There have been a ridiculous amount of documented police calls because of the harassment I have suffered at the hands of these people. Now that I am pregnant with the half sibling, despite it all, I still want my child to have a close relationship with his/her half-sibling, regardless of the other family. I need legal assistance in making sure that my child will have visitation with his/her half-sibling, with explicit instructions that the other side is NEVER to be present around my child. I need help.

  9. My child father is jonarhan ringel my child ten. His daughter is6and another is 1 by leslie ringel. I think the kids shouldknow each other.,leslie instiguated pre ligation against in past for telling her off i placed situation into ada . Three kids know of wach orher family court told me i can petition for all three kids have visitation but judge would decide

  10. Hi, I am pregnant with my first child, but my boyfriend has 2 children from a previous relationship. One is 23 and the other is 10. My boyfriend has shared custody of the 10 yo but the 23 yo wants nothing to do with his father. Now he wants to try and gets rights to visitation with my child once he/she is born. He has never been told he can’t come and visit but he wants to take the child to HIS mother’s for visitation. He is also in the military and travels. Can he get visitation rights if we’re not denying him from seeing the baby under our supervision?

  11. Well the problem that I have is that the father of my 3 year old daughter is in jail and he failed the agreement we had for the visitation rights …… but his daughter the half sister of my little girl is taking me to court for visitation rights but there’s one issue, that I put her on a restraining order and i have prove that she threaten me now and before when i was pregnant, if I present this in court what would be the chances of the visitation rights

  12. My youngest son has an older brother from his father and since me and his father are no longer together I’m not allowed to see his oldest son and nither is my younger son unless they are both with the father. The father has no living space and is a really bad spot in life to where he can’t take both kids . I’m only looking for one full day for these two brother to get to know each other considering that my younger son Is only 6 months old.

  13. I have a half brother, I am 27 and he is 8, he and I share the same father. Our father has never had anything to do with me, but does have custody of his son, that being said I would like to know what rights I have as a sibling to visitation. This child has no idea that I currently exist and I feel if we don’t meet sooner than later we both will regret it later in life.

  14. My daughter is 23 yrs old, she has a 10 yr old sister. My husband has been fighting for visitation since the little girl was 2, 2 summers ago we got to see her every other week for about 6 weeks, then her mother violated the court order. My daughter since then has had ups & downs with her dad. He’s going back to court but says that he will not allow my daughter to see her sister unless he’s around but that’s not going to happen because they are not on speaking terms at the moment. Can my daughter petition the court for visitation?

  15. My situation is my mother abused my brother he reached out to me for help so i had my aunt call the police in hopes my mother would let him stay with me for a while he requested to be with me but my mom defame my character out of anger amd now im out the loop how do i go about seeing or speaking to him if a family member who she agreed with get to take care of him

  16. I have a? Does my children really have to see there brother or sister if they don’t want to and if I don’t want them seeing them I would like an answer bc my husband is telling his baby mamas to take me to court for my kids to visit his other kids

  17. My boyfriend’s and his son’s grandfather have custody rights for his son. The mother for the first 5 years wanted nothing to do with him. Then she wanted him back in his life. Now she’s threatening to leave state with him. Is it legal? Also he has 2 siblings now. His father and I had two children. Is there any way I could go about trying to get custody and more time with him? I feel he should feel apart of our little family and it’s not fair when he lives with his grandfather what can I do.

  18. My step son is taking me to court for visitation of my daughter who is 10 months old. He is 17 and lives with his mother and he doesn’t make contact with my husband or I at all. He wasn’t around for any of my pregnancy or since my daughter has been born but he has now decided that he wants to be in her life. We have never prevented him from seeing her, he has stated that he hates us and wants nothing to do with us but expects to have my daughter around his mothers family!

  19. Im the oldest of 5 children on my fathers side. My father has children with 3 different women. Me and my brother (14) from my mother. My middle two siblings (sister 11, passed) (brother 10) with another woman. Then my final sibling with my step mother (brother age 3). I have always watched my brother age 3 for free, and paid for clothes, food, books, ect. Anything they needed help with. My step mother and my father got into an argument and now my step mother would like to divorce my father and take my brother to florida, and says that we will never see him again. I have had my brother every week sense he was born for a minimum of 2-3days a week and a max of 4-5days every week. We typically have him for one to two overnights every week. Id like to know if there is any way to get visitation rights to see my brother as i know that siblings in new york have visitation rights if granted by the court. So far she has only prevented us from seeing him when fighting with my biologically father, but i am worried that i will never see him again if she follows through on her threat to take him to florida. My father has joint custody with her but he says hes tired of fighting and doesnt care what happens in the end anymore. Id really just like to stay apart of his life, hes an amazing child.

  20. I have 6 children all together but only have one in my home do reasons I would rather not talk about. So my other 5 kids have been adopted but I would like my now 5 month old to get to know his older siblings. Please let me know if it is possible

  21. I’m 18 years old I left my home when I was 16 due to abusive parents. I left my 2 siblings there my sister is 6 now and my brother is 2. I’m trying visitation rights with them but they moved to a whole new state New Jersey and when I left we were in New York they ran from the state four days after I left when I filed with cps against them. How can I get visitation?

  22. My little brother (12 years old) and I have been apart of each other’s life always but then my mother passed away and my older brother and his wife became my little brothers legal guardian, since then I have only been able to see my little brother a hand full of times. I’ve been kept away from my little brothers life since. How can I get visitation rights so that this does not keep happening? Please advise?

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