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Grandparents' visitation often best for the child

Florida grand parents may be finding themselves on the outside when it comes to involvement in their grand children's lives. Often the matter involves one of the in-laws denying the grand parent visitation rights, but if both parents mutually decide to not allow access it may become more difficult to find court's sympathetic to their plight.

A 2000 Supreme Court decision gave parents the fundamental right to raise their children as they see fit so long as no harm has been inflicted upon the child. The ruling has thus been extended in certain jurisdiction allowing parents to not have to abide by the wishes of the grand parents in the raising of children, either.

Though certain states do allow for the grandparents to petition for visitation rights, the burden is often placed upon the grandparents to prove that what's in the child's best interest is to allow such visitation to take place. Other states take this requirement even a step further by forcing the grandparents to prove that harm would actually be done for the child if the grandparents are denied visitation.

Since the state of the law is what it is grandparents will not always be provided the opportunity to visit a child by court order unless all parties can agree to put aside their petty differences and agree to do what is best for the child. What's in the best interest of the children should always be the number one concern of the courts, but attorneys representing the interests of the grandparents can point out the number of studies showing that involvement of grandparents in the child's life supplies a wide variety of benefits for all parties involved - most importantly the child.

Source: Huffington Post, "Constitutional Rights of Grandparents: Do We Have Any?" by Karin Kasin, March 16, 2012

1 Comment

I have been professionally involved in the area of grandparent visitation disputes on and off for more than 13 years, so I hope you won't mind if I clarify a few points.

Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000), was not the first U.S. Supreme Court case to declare that parents have a fundamental constitutional right to bring up their children as they see fit. It was, however, the first Supreme Court case to apply that principle in

the context of grandparent visitation. As a result of that case, trial courts nationwide have the duty to start by assuming, in these cases, that a fit custodial parent's decision to limit or deny grandparent visitation is in the child's best interest -- that is, is right for that particular child, re: the particular visitation at issue with that particular grandparent. Troxel did not specify what sort of showing the grandparent must make to overcome that presumption, and different state courts have set the bar at varying levels.

While there are studies showing benefits from grandparent-grandchild contact, I believe those studies do not show any such benefit -- and, indeed, show a detriment -- when there is animosity between the custodial parent and the grandparent. Moreover, grandparent visitation litigation is typically devastating for the custodial family, financially and emotionally, and puts an end to any likelihood of cordial relations between parent and grandparent. Resources that should go toward the child's education and even basic care are consumed by attorney fees. Grandparents should think long and hard before inflicting this trauma on the grandchild they love.

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