Monday, January 20, 2014

Grandparent Visitation

In our state, the courts have granted grandparent visitation in cases where the grand child's parent (and child of the grandparent) had died or been incarcerated. Sometime in the course of a divorce, grandparents can petition the court for visitation if their child has become the noncustodial parent.

None of these situations applied on my case.

The way the statute is currently worded is that the court must assume that the parent's decision regarding grandparent visitation is in the grandchild's best interest and the court must give that consideration special weight.

However, the court can override a parent's decision if: visitation has been denied or unreasonably limited, visitation is in the best interest of the child (ahhh the vague "best interest of the child" gets tossed in here), or the grandparents can prove that the parent is not acting in the best interest of the child. So, my parents had to prove that I was not doing what was best for my son. The court would also consider if a "substantial relationship" between grandchild and grandparent had been established.

It's kind of a frightening idea. If a grandparent frequently babysits a grandchild, and then that situation changes, the grandparent could sue for visitation rights. If adult children move into their parent's home for a short time, the grandchildren might form a substantial relationship with their grandparents and when the parents move out, grandma can sue to make sure she maintains her precious milk and cookie time with her grandchildren.

Seems ridiculous, doesn't it? No grandparent would ever really do something like that.

Hopefully not. But then why have a statute worded that way? Because a grandparent just might go for it. Maybe they disagree with how their grandchild is being raised. Maybe they disagree with the religious choices of their children and feel like they need to save their grandchildren. Whatever the case may be, this statute gives grandparents the right to sue their own children with very little cause.

It's ridiculous, you must be thinking. Who cares if there's a law like this? No one will really use it inappropriately. What parent would ever sue their own child?

But they would. It happened to me.

No comments:

Post a Comment