The Fourth Department, reversing Family Court, determined the court should not have dismissed the grandparents’ petition for visitation before holding a best interests of the child hearing:
… [T]he court erred in granting respondents’ motion and in terminating the hearing before petitioners had completed the presentation of their case … . “[E]ven where . . . a grandparent has established standing to seek visitation, ‘a grandparent must then establish that visitation is in the best interests of the grandchild . . . Among the factors to be considered are whether the grandparent and grandchild have a preexisting relationship, whether the grandparent supports or undermines the grandchild’s relationship with his or her parents, and whether there is any animosity between the parents and the grandparent’ ” … . Visitation and “custody determinations should ‘[g]enerally’ be made ‘only after a full and plenary hearing and inquiry’ ” … , “[u]nless there is sufficient evidence before the court to enable it to undertake a comprehensive independent review of the child[‘s] best interests” … . Upon our review of the record, we conclude that, “[a]bsent a[ full] evidentiary hearing, . . . the court here lacked sufficient evidence . . . to enable it to undertake a comprehensive independent review of the [children]’s best interests” … . We therefore reverse the order, deny the motion, reinstate the petitions, and remit the matter to Supreme Court for a full evidentiary hearing on the petitions. DeMarco v Severance, 2023 NY Slip Op 04284, Fourth Dept 8-11-23
Practice Point: The grandparents’ petition for visitation should not have been dismissed absent a full best interests of the child hearing.