Our Orange County Family Law Attorneys go to courtroom battle for grandparents seeking visitation with, or custody of, grandchildren.
The status of grandparents’ rights is precarious in some states. Within the current laws, in case a couple’s adult daughter dies, those grandparents could be turned down for visitation with their grandchild because of the children’s father.
Even when they had just what a lot of people would consider a classic grandparent-grandchild relationship and, suppose, saw their own grandchild just about every Sunday afternoon. However in the eyes of some states, until grandparents have performed as de facto parents, meaning that they lived with their grandkids or took proper care of them as the parents were at work, they are treated no differently than strangers.
Orange County Grandparents Rights Attorney
Families fall apart for any variety of reasons: divorce, the passing away of a parent, substance abuse, time in jail. Grandparents in Orange County and all over the U.S. really have legal rights and can seek visitation rights with grandkids, but those rights change from state to state. Knowing your basic legal rights can really help make sure that your relationship with the grandkids isn’t going to end should that with their parents. In fact, each case involves a unique set of facts and grandparents who end up unexpectedly cut off from grandkids need to talk to a lawyer to go over the course of action their specific situations require.
When Grandparents’ Rights Changed
In June 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court released a 6-3 decision on grandparents’ visitation rights in the Troxel v. Granville case. This canceled out a Washington State law that allowed judges to allow visitation rights to any interested party as long as the visits were in the best interest of the kid, even when the parents objected.
The Troxel v. Granville decision was ambiguous because while many of the justices agreed that Troxel really should be decided a particular approach, each one had a totally different reason for doing so which led to six written opinions.
This makes it difficult for state courts to interpret the decision. Despite this and the limited set of facts in which the case dealt, Troxel v. Granville has turned out to be the grounds for all subsequent discussion of grandparents’ rights.
Parent Vs. Grandparent: Whose Call Is It?
The case goes back to 1993, when Brad Troxel committed suicide in Washington State. Brad abandoned two daughters and their mother, Tommie Granville, whom he had never married. Brad and Tommie were estranged at the time of his dying, yet Brad’s parents, Gary and Jenifer, kept visiting their grandchildren after the suicide. When Tommie remarried and her new husband adopted the daughters she’d had with Brad, Tommie limited the grandparents’ visits.
The Troxels desired a lot more time with their grandchildren and went to court for this, citing Washington State’s third-party visitation rights law, which said they have the legal right to visit as long as it was in the best interest of the kids. A trial judge agreed.
The Supreme Court, on the other hand, didn’t and found the Washington State law to be “breathtakingly broad,” arguing that it infringed with parental legal rights. It struck down the Washington Supreme Court’s determination, which had approved the Troxel grandparent’s legal rights to more visitations.
While groups such as AARP filed court papers in favor of grandparents’ rights, the parents’ rights groups hailed the Supreme Court decision in favor of Tommie Granville a victory. Groups like the Coalition for the Restoration of Parental Rights along with the American Civil Liberties Union applauded the decision which gave “fit” parents the last say on how to raise their children, including whether grandparents could see them.
Laws Vary State by State
At the most basic level, all states require grandparents to prove that the visits they request will be in the best interest of the grandchild. This frequently means that grandparents have got to show that their visits will not be undesirable at all, and that they aren’t abusive or otherwise harmful to the child. More than this initial hurdle, each state has a distinct threshold for when it will allow grandparents to take a claim to court.
A number of states are more permissive in terms of filing for visitation. Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Maryland and also New York demand only the ground rule above mentioned, that visitation is in the best interest of the child, before grandparents may take a case to court.
Other states set tighter demands, permitting grandparents to file a lawsuit only when they were denied visitation altogether. Under latest laws in Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Mississippi, Oregon, Rhode Island as well as Utah, grandparents haven’t got a case if parents let them to visit their grandkids, no matter how infrequently.
In Minnesota and Pennsylvania, grandparents are unable to make a legal case except if their grandkids formerly lived with them. Outside of the U.S., grandparents could be surprised to learn how limited grandparents’ rights are in the U.K.
Burden of Proof
The most restrictive states, such as Florida, Minnesota and also Pennsylvania, need proof that grandparents have got a parent-child relationship with their grandchild, which means they already have frequently stood in for the kid’s parents.
Depending on the state, these requirements could be extreme. Grandparents might have to clearly show they took good care of the child full-time while parents were gone for extended periods of time or perhaps that they participated in regular parental duties for instance taking the child to physician sessions or even participating in PTA meetings.
Legislation is evolving in response to Troxel, on a state by state basis. The Ohio Supreme Court released a 2005 decision finding that Troxel does not affect Ohio’s laws on visitation rights. In Harrold v. Collier, Ohio’s court differed from Troxel once it decided that grandparents may well visit the children of their departed daughter, against the wishes of the children’s father.
On the other hand, recent cases in the Texas Supreme Court have retained the state’s grandparents’ visitation laws based on Troxel. In 2005, the Texas state legislature amended its old laws on grandparents’ legal rights, stiffening the conditions by permitting grandparents access over a parent’s objection only if denial of access would “significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional well-being.”
Until there is a uniform guidance on a nationwide level, say Kent, state laws continue to vary in ways that most likely harm grandparents’ legal rights.
Who’s Guarding the Orange County Grandparents Rights?
On a national level, Senators Hillary Clinton (D) of New York and Olympia Snowe (R) of Maine announced a bipartisan bill in March 2007 that might support grandparents as well as other relatives taking over primary caretaker responsibilities for kids. The Kinship Caregiver Support Act does not deal with custody or even visitation issues precisely, but does give support for the more than 6 million children in the United States living in households headed by grandparents or any other relatives by broadening access to federal assistance programs for education, medical treatment and legal services.
The actual bill, backed up by AARP and grandparents, lobbying groups such as Generations United and Grandparents for Children’s Rights, remains in the initial stages of the legislative system and can even have various revisions before going to a vote in the whole Congress.
On a grassroots level, there is certainly expanding support for grandparents going through visitation or custodial issues with their grandchildren. AARP provides a number of informative resources on a national level, as also does Grandparents Rights Organization, a Michigan-based non-profit organization. Furthermore, local organizations like California-based Grandparents as Parents, present support programs to lend a caring hand to grandparents coping with the task of trying to get visitation rights and custodial rights in their state.