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Monday, November 07, 2011

Law - "The growing movement among grandparents' groups has alarmed many parents and their advocacy groups nationwide"

That is a quote from a long AP story by Stephanie Reitz, headlined "States' grandparent visitation laws raise concern," datelined Hartford, Conn., and published Nov. 5, 2011. Some quotes from mid-story:

All 50 states have laws governing the conditions for non-parent third parties seeking visitation, but it was only in 2000 that the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling said none of those laws can infringe on the rights of competent parents.

That includes determining who can spend time with their children, with courts stepping in to order non-parent visitation only under tight circumstances deemed in the child's best interest.

That's where state laws and court rulings have evolved to include conditions that vary widely from one state to the next. The circumstances also vary, from intact two-parent families being sued by grandparents to situations stemming from thorny divorces and remarriages, disputes with one parent after another dies, and other cases.

In some states, grandparents can sue for visitation only if they have been completely cut off by custodial parents. In others, they must show their relationship with the grandchild was similar to that of a parent. In yet others, they must prove with "clear and convincing evidence" that the child will suffer irreversible harm without the visits.

And while some states have a combination of those standards, others have very few and give grandparents far more latitude to present their cases.

That can include deposing their adult children, seeking the parents' medical and financial records and other time-consuming actions. And some state courts have ruled that even if the grandparents lose, the parents can't get their legal bills reimbursed.

Connecticut is not the only state struggling with the issue. In June, Alabama's state Supreme Court struck down its law as unconstitutional because it included grandparent visitation rights over competent parents' objections.

Attorneys in the case have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the issue, backed by officials in Ohio, Hawaii, Louisiana, Michigan and Washington.

Connecticut, Florida and Arizona are considered among the most parent-friendly based on their laws or court precedents. Others are considered more grandparent-friendly, including Utah, Kansas and Oklahoma.

ILB: The story briefly quotes Karen Wyle, an attorney in Bloomington. The ILB quoted Ms. Wyle on Jan. 31, 2010 and again on Feb. 26, 2010.

The Alabama case discussed in the story that is on appeal to the SCOTUS is E.R.G. v. E.H.G. See discussion in SCOTUSblog here. Here are the docket entries.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 7, 2011 09:57 AM
Posted to General Law Related