Monthly Member Meeting | Defending Generations: Navigating Grandparents’ Rights in Family Law

Approved for:
1 General CLE Credit
1 Marital and Family Law Certification Credit


In this brief 50-minute presentation, the complexities surrounding grandparents’ rights in New York are explored through the lens of legal, financial, mental health, and real estate professionals. The discussion begins by identifying the legal foundations, including relevant statutes such as Sections 72 of the New York Domestic Relations Law, and highlighting landmark cases that have shaped the landscape of grandparents’ rights. Emphasis is placed on the evolving nature of these rights within the dynamic framework of family law.

The presentation delves into the types of rights grandparents may seek, such as visitation, custody, formal or informal foster care, and even adoption.   Recent changes in New York family law are examined, underscoring their potential impact on legal strategies. The pivotal role of professionals in contributing to the court’s assessment of the best interests of the child is discussed, recognizing the collaboration required between legal, mental health, and real estate professionals. The emotional impact of grandparents’ rights cases on both children and grandparents is addressed, emphasizing the crucial role of mental health professionals in mitigating these emotional challenges. Exploring the interaction between grandparents’ rights and residential decisions underscores the need for a balanced approach that considers both legal requirements and practical considerations.

Attendees will learn: 

  • Legal Foundations: Familiarize yourself with Sections 72  of the Domestic Relations Law and landmark cases shaping grandparents’ rights in New York.
  • Dynamic Nature: Acknowledge the evolving nature of grandparents’ rights within the context of changing family dynamics and legal developments.
  • Collaboration is Key: Recognize the significance of collaboration between legal, mental health, financial and real estate professionals for a comprehensive approach.
  • Impact on Well-being: Understand the emotional impact of these cases on children, parents and grandparents, highlighting the role of mental health professionals in offering support. 
  • Balanced Approach: Consider legal, financial, emotional and residential aspects when navigating the complexities of grandparents’ rights cases for optimal outcomes.


DEBRA WHITSON, CEO/Owner of WhitsonLaw Firm 

Attorney, Mediator, and Certified Divorce Specialist (CDS®)

For the first third of her thirty-year career, Debra Whitson was a special victims’ prosecutor prior to starting her own law firm that specializes in Matrimonial and Family Law. She is an experienced mediator and collaborative divorce practitioner as well as a recognized expert in working with victims of domestic violence.

Debra Whitson believes that legal battles are more harmful to families than helpful, and is passionate about helping people find ways to make their own decisions for their families, rather than leaving their outcomes in the hands of a stranger in a black robe. When court is unavoidable, Debra aims to educate and support people to make the legal process less costly, scary, uncertain, and stressful. In her spare time,

Debra Whitson works with Zonta International to improve the lives of women and girls in her local community and around the globe. She loves to travel, have good food and wine, play tennis, and spend time with her husband, children and dog enjoying all of the outdoor activities available in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State where they make their home.

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