since it hasn’t been really brought up a lot, I thought I’d post some info on the topic of Grandparents’ Rights. Note the phrase ‘when a parent has died’ - it seems to be an important point for the Courts. This first post is snipped sentences from the below-link to make it shorter:
California - like every other state — has a grandparent visitation law: Under the law, courts can order that grandparents be permitted to visit their grandchildren, even if the children’s parents object. Recently, in the case of Butler v. Harris, the California Supreme Court upheld the law against a constitutional challenge.
Butler was decided in the shadow of a very similar 2000 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, Troxel v. Granville. There, the Court struck down, as unconstitutional, an order granting visitation to grandparents over the objection of the children’s mother.
The Court found the state’s visitation statute “breathtakingly broad.” It also found fault with the court order itself - holding it invalid because it failed to sufficiently defer to the constitutionally protected right of parental autonomy.
Given Troxel, shouldn’t the California case have come out the other way - with the parents, not the grandparents, winning? As I will explain, that depends on how you read Troxel.
...Since Troxel was issued in 2000, several state supreme courts have had occasion to consider or reconsider the validity of their own grandparent visitation statutes. The results have been mixed - as I discussed in an earlier column. With varying statutes before them, state supreme courts have split fairly evenly about the constitutionality of grandparent visitation laws.
...One obvious trend is toward upholding laws that permit grandparents to seek visitation only when the nuclear family is not intact because the parents have never married, divorced, or one of them has died. The California decision and the statute underlying it are consistent with this trend.
...To begin, here are the facts of the California case: A married couple, Karen Butler and Charles Harris, had a child, Emily. Shortly thereafter, they divorced. According to Karen, Charles was physically and psychologically abusive, and he admitted striking her on at least some occasions.
The court granted Karen sole legal and physical custody of Emily. But it also granted Charles’s parents visitation several times a year.
After some difficult visits, Karen sought to terminate the grandparents’ visitation with Emily. The visitation had required young Emily to fly, unaccompanied, from Utah to California several times a year. And Karen worried the grandparents would not be able to protect Emily from her violent father. (Indeed, ultimately, Charles’s parental rights were completely terminated.)
But despite Karen’s wishes, the trial court allowed three visitation periods per year: two that were twelve days long, and one that was six days long. The result was that Emily would spend a month out of every year visiting her grandparents in another state.
...Karen appealed the order, citing Troxel.
...California Law on Grandparent Visitation
California statutes allow grandparents to get visitation rights in three ways.
First, when a parent has died, a court may award visitation to close relatives of that parent, if it is in the best interests of the child.
Second, in a custody proceeding, a court may grant grandparents visitation rights if it is in the best interests of the child.
Third - in the provision that was at issue in the Butler case — grandparents may petition for visitation if the grandchild’s parents are not married or if certain other conditions are met. That provision applied here - because Karen and Charles were divorced.
...Thus, Karen had an uphill battle, to say the least, in challenging the statute. Perhaps realizing that challenging the statute “on its face” would fail, she also challenged it “as applied” to her particular situation.
....But here, too, she lost. The California Supreme Court was unwilling to hold that granting the grandparents’ request, under the circumstances, violated Karen’s parental rights...
more Grandparent law:
State Child-Visitation Laws
All 50 states currently have some type of “grandparent visitation” statute through which grandparents and sometimes others (foster parents and stepparents, for example) can ask a court to grant them the legal right to maintain their relationships with loved children. But state laws vary greatly when it comes to the crucial details, such as who can visit and under what circumstances.
Approximately twenty states have “restrictive” visitation statutes, meaning that generally only grandparents can get a court order for visitation — and only if the child’s parents are divorcing or if one or both parents have died. Most states have more permissive visitation...
two more (note again, when a parent has died; note also, marital status of the surviving parent at time child was born may be considered). I don’t have an answer yet for the question, - Under the Uniform Child Protection Act, custody orders between states must be honored - I’m wondering if that might apply also, under the International Act, to Bahama decisions translating to the States?:
KENTUCKY: A court may award visitation rights if visitation would be in the child’s best interest. A court may award a grandparent the same visitation rights as a parent without custody if the grandparent’s child is deceased and the grandparent has provided CHILD SUPPORT to the grandchild.
State statutes providing visitation to grandparents generally require that a number of conditions occur before visitation rights can be granted. The marital status of the parents must be considered in a majority of states before a court will evaluate the relevant factors to determine if visitation is appropriate. In some of these states, the parents’ marital status is considered only if the grandparent or grandparents have been denied visitation by the parents
A minority of states require that at least one parent is deceased before a court can award visitation to the parent of the deceased parent of the child. For example, a maternal grandparent in one of these states may be awarded visitation only if the mother of the child is deceased.
Once the statutory conditions for visitation are met, grandparents must establish the factors that courts may or must consider to grant visitation rights. In every state, grandparents must prove that granting visitation to the grandchild is in the best interest of the child. Several states also require that the court consider the prior relationship between the grandparent and the grandchild, the effect grandparental visitation will have on the relationship between the parent and child, and/or a showing of harm to the grandchild if visitation is not allowed.
If a child’s parents and/or grandparents live in different states, one of several laws will determine the appropriate court to hear a custody or visitation case. If a valid custody or visitation DECREE has been entered in one state, the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act requires that another state must enforce and must not modify the decree. Another state may modify the decree only if the original state no longer has jurisdiction over the case or has declined jurisdiction to modify the custody or visitation decree. Congress amended this statute in 1998 to include a grandparent in the definition of “contestant.”
If no state has made a valid custody determination, the provisions of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, as adopted by each state, will apply. A court in a particular state has power to hear a custody case if that state is the child’s “home state” or has been the home state of the child within six months of the date the legal action was brought and at least one parent continues to reside in the state. Other situations include those in which a state with jurisdiction over a custody case declines jurisdiction or no other state may assert jurisdiction over the child.
CALIFORNIA: Conditions for grandparent visitation rights include a determination of whether a parent is deceased, the child’s parents are divorced or separated, the whereabouts of one parent is unknown, or the child is not residing with either parent. In addition to determining that visitation is in the child’s best interests, the court must find that the grandparents had a preexisting relationship with the grandchild