controversy over grandparent visitation rights

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For most of us, this holiday season revolves around visiting grandparents or remembering such visits from our youth.  For a small percentage of children, however, whether they get to see grandparents is a decision being made by family court judges, with grandparent rights being pitted against those of parents who want to deny or restrict such visitation. Just yesterday (Dec. 20, 2006), the U.S. Supreme Court was asked to review a recent Pennsylvania case, Hiller v. Fausey, involving grandparent visitation. (see How Appealing, whose editor represents Fausey, the parent who lost below)

The Fausey v. Hiller Petition asks the Supreme Court to clarify an issue left unresolved in its landmark grandparent visitation case Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000):

Whether the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause is violated when a court orders grandparent visitation over a fit parent’s objection, where the grandparent has not proved by clear and convincing evidence that such an order is necessary to prevent harm or potential harm to the child.

Like any good petition for a writ of certiorari, the Fausey Petition has a useful summary of the split among the state courts and legislatures over whether and when the decision of a fit parent can be overridden by a court “in the best interests of the child.”  

grandparentsAARP  AARP’s Grandparenting webpage

If you would like more information on this topic, you should check out:  a) AARP’s Grandparent Visitation page, which includes suggestions for avoiding these issues down the road or resolving them out of court; b) the majority, concurring and dissenting opinions from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Hiller v. Fausey, linked at the FamilyLawProfs weblog, which give a summary of the issues and policies involved — looking at the rights of parents, grandparents and children; c) a recent summary at the California Family Law Blog; and d) the Sept. 12, 2006 USA Today article, “Recent rulings favor grandparents.”

ornamentG Some court self-help websites may also help you to understand the law as it exists in a particular state.  And, as always, your law or public librarian should be able to help you find relevant materials on grandparent visitation.

 

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