Friday, August 22, 2014

Legal
Grandparents’ Visitation Rights

by Laura Monroe

In 2000, the United States Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision in the case of Troxel v. Granville concerning the visitation rights of grandparents in situations of divorce. According to the Court’s decision, a parent has a fundamental right to care for and have control over their children. But at the same time, it counters that the law cannot set fixed visitation rights for grandparents; rather these rights must be applied on a case-by-case basis. The Troxel v. Granville decision did little to establish special benefits for grandparents who want to see their grandchildren, but what it did accomplish was to deem individual state statutes (such as Washington’s law concerning non-parental visitation) as unconstitutional, forcing courts to take seriously grandparents petitions for visitation based on the best interests of the children.

Each of the 50 states in the U.S. has statutes in place for grandparent visitation issues, and various state governing bodies have responded differently in the wake of this Supreme Court decision. Some states have determined the decision to be constitutional, thereby incorporating it into their law code. This includes Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Other states have yet to make a determination on the issue; this group includes Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming.

The remaining states fall into two general categories: those who have determined that the legislation is at its core unconstitutional and those who have found certain aspects of the statute to be unconstitutional but concur that the statute is constitutional at its base. Those states that have determined uniform unconstitutionality in the statute’s entirety include Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and New Hampshire.

Those states who have ruled the statute unconstitutional as applied in specific cases are: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas and Vermont. These determinations were made for a variety of reasons. Both California and Maryland, for instance, found that the statute conflicted with aspects of their state Family Codes. Notice that Ohio and Texas fall both in this category and that of those states who have accepted the statute as law. This is due to conflicting rulings within these states. For instance, Ohio followed Troxel v. Granville in cases concerning grandparent visitation when the parents are divorced but found aspects of it unconstitutional in cases when the parent of a child is deceased or the child is born to an unmarried mother.

 Do grandparents have rights laws in your state?

 

State

 

No Determination

 

Unconstitutional On Its Face

 

Unconstitutional As Applied

 

Constitutional

 

Alabama

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

Alaska

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arizona

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

Arkansas

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

California

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

Colorado

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

Connecticut

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

Delaware

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D.C.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Florida

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

Georgia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

Hawaii

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Idaho

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Illinois

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

Indiana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

Iowa

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

Kansas

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

Kentucky

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

Louisiana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

Maine  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

Maryland

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

Massachusetts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

Michigan

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

Minnesota

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mississippi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

Missouri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

Montana

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nebraska

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

Nevada

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Hampshire

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

New Jersey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

New Mexico

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

New York

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

North Carolina

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

North Dakota

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ohio

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

X

 

Oklahoma

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

Oregon

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

Pennsylvania

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rhode Island

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

South Carolina

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

South Dakota

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

Tennessee

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Texas

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

X

 

Utah

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vermont

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

 

Virginia

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Washington

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

West Virginia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

Wisconsin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

Wyoming

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TOTALS

 

15

 

5

 

13

 

19

 

Keywords: grandparents rights, child visitation, grandparents visitation
Posted in: Legal, Syndication
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