Parental Rights in New York

New York Parental Rights News

2017 Legislative Summary

2017 State Legislative Recap

June 7, 2017

In most states, the 2017 legislative session has finished up or is winding down. Eight state legislatures work year-round or at least for several more months, and five others are poised to adjourn unofficially in a few days (but officially are year-round, too). That leaves 37 states ready to head home for the summer. Among…

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New York State Law and Parental Rights

At Risk!

New York does not have a state statute that explicitly defines and protects parental rights as fundamental rights.

2017-2018: A7821, authored by Rep. Woerner (D- Round Lake) and the matching S6402 authored by Sen. Marchione (R- 43rd), constitute a rare and exciting opportunity to make gains for parental rights in New York. These bills would make changes to New York’s grandparent visitation statute to ensure the presumption that parents make decisions in the best interests of their children, to limit the instances when grandparents or other third parties have standing to sue for visitation, and to provide for courts to require those who file suit under false pretenses to pay the court costs. As of July 2018, the bills are still in committee.

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New York Courts and Parental Rights

At High Risk!

In their interpretation of Troxel, New York courts have denied parental rights the protection of the strict scrutiny standard.

  • Nicholson v. Williams, 203 F. Supp. 2d 153, 245 (E.D. N.Y. 2002) The Court noted that "[t]he plurality [in Troxel] apparently saw no need to vocalize a standard of review," and that "[u]nderstandably, the Supreme Court and other courts have hesitated to apply strict scrutiny mechanically and invariably to government legislation and policy that infringes on familial rights. Even as it has recognized the sanctity of familial rights, the Court has always acknowledged the necessity of allowing the states some leeway to interfere sometimes.”
  • Price v. New York City Bd. Of Educ., 855 N.Y.S.2d 530, 542 (N.Y. App. Div. 2008) (holding that "even if we were to hold that a fundamental liberty interest is at stake [because of a school rule prohibiting students from having cell phones], we would not apply strict scrutiny" because "there is no clear precedent requiring the application of strict scrutiny to government action which infringes on parents' fundamental right to rear their children" given that Troxel "did not articulate any constitutional standard of review")