Sunday, November 13, 2011

Grandparent visitation rights

The US Supreme Court is considering whether to hear this case:
Issue: Whether under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, grandparents who seek court-ordered visitation with their grandchildren must prove that a compelling circumstance necessitates visitation, or whether constitutional requirements are instead satisfied where the court considering the visitation request applies a presumption in favor of the parents' wishes and places on the petitioning grandparent the burden of proving that visitation is in the children's best interest.
I agree with the Alabama SC, and disagree with everything in the cert petition, except that these cases will keep coming back and Troxel was ambiguous.

(The link to the "opinion below" is wrong; the Alabama decision is here.)

The cert petition agrees with giving the grandparents visitation because:
The trial court’s detailed opinion in this case perfectly reflects that delicate balancing; the judge carefully considered all of the affected parties’ in-terests, while paying an extra measure of deference to the parents’ wishes.
Parents have no rights if minor parental decisions can be overridden by a judge who merely says that he is "paying an extra measure of deference to the parents’ wishes."

I guess that some people might read the factual history as favoring the grandparents, but I do not. Consider:
[The mother] testified that when the children were very young, the two families had basically blended together and had acted as a single unit, with the paternal grand-mother asserting a great deal of control over the care of the children, sometimes even in violation of the mother’s desires.
I suppose that some would read this as suggesting that the judge should try to reconstruct that happier period when the grandma often got her way with the kids. I don't see it that way at all. If that were the rule, then parents would be prudent to always overrule whatever the grandparents say, for fear that they might set a precedent that would be used against the parents later in court.

This grandparent visitation issue is just an amusing sideshow. There are about 20 more important issues where the family court is denying parental rights in what ought to be violations of constitutional rights. But the federal courts won't hear any of it.

1 comment:

Grandparents Rights Illinois said...

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