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Should the Law Recognize Grandparents’ Changing Roles?

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11 Responses

  1. Adam says:

    Assuming we did revisit and modify current law, how long would it be before parents started having grandparents sign away their right to contest visitation or custody in the event of a misunderstanding or disagreement? And would such an agreement be enforceable if the child’s best interests are to continue visitation?

    Should a grandparent’s visitation be any different than a nanny who raised the child for 10 years? If yes, why? If noT, should we then allow a nanny or caretaker the same visitation rights?

    Though I can’t articulate exactly why, it seems you should need something more than a preponderance of the evidence that grandparent’s visitation is in the best interests of the child before you have the state override the parent’s decision. Maybe clear and convincing, or even more.

  2. Adam says:

    Assuming we did revisit and modify current law, how long would it be before parents started having grandparents sign away their right to contest visitation or custody in the event of a misunderstanding or disagreement? And would such an agreement be enforceable if the child’s best interests are to continue visitation?

    Should a grandparent’s visitation be any different than a nanny who raised the child for 10 years? If yes, why? If noT, should we then allow a nanny or caretaker the same visitation rights?

    Though I can’t articulate exactly why, it seems you should need something more than a preponderance of the evidence that grandparent’s visitation is in the best interests of the child before you have the state override the parent’s decision. Maybe clear and convincing, or even more.

  3. Fraud Guy says:

    From a more experiential point of view.

    In my state, foster parents have no special rights to help determine a foster child’s long term conditions, unless the child has lived with them for over 1 year. At that point, their input is to be considered about equally as that of a birth parent, social worker, therapist, or guardian ad litum.

    Now in many cases children spend less time with a grandparent than with a parent, but there should be some tipping point where their input has to be given weight with regards to the child (maybe not equal, but some significance). Having seen and helped with the emotional issues children undergo when they lose contact with their birth family, a decision by a parent to deprive a child of contact with grandparents can be considered to be not in the best interest of the child.

  4. Maggie says:

    I have given CLE classes on this. I am a parent in a traditional marriage-an intact family, who has sued along with my husband of many years for grnadparent visitation by my mother.

    My husband and I won and managed, therefore, to safeguard our young children. $100,000.00 and years of torment and court appearances to safeguard our children. It was worth it but why why why do these statutes exist that allow people to sue fit parents?

    The line must be drawn.

  5. Maggie says:

    I have given CLE classes on this. I am a parent in a traditional marriage-an intact family, who has sued along with my husband of many years for grnadparent visitation by my mother.

    My husband and I won and managed, therefore, to safeguard our young children. $100,000.00 and years of torment and court appearances to safeguard our children. It was worth it but why why why do these statutes exist that allow people to sue fit parents?

    The line must be drawn.

  6. Good Parent says:

    I was sued shortly after my husband died. I am a fit, available, involved parent and I have always taken excellent care of my child from day 1. This person had little to no contact with my child and certainly no care-giving role whatsoever. Prior to the lawsuit, I had allowed supervised contact as I decided that would be most beneficial to my child. Yet the petitioner was granted unsupervised visits against MY better judgement, based on nothing. This is called state totalitarianism or “nanny government”. The State allows a nonparent with the State’s help to determine what constitutes a child’s best interest, while treating the fit, available custodial parent as a “bad” parent or worse, excluding the fit parent altogether from using their own best judgment concerning who can influence our children. These laws simply ignore the fact that nonparents who sue fit parents have an ax to grind with the parent, and the money to do it. These laws are vindictive in nature, against the custodial parents, as the parent has broken no laws. Had these nonparents been respectful and truly supportive, they would have no need to sue. These visitationlaws allow the nonparent to use the parent’s child as a pawn to seek revenge on the parent. At common law, nonparents have no rights whatsoever to other people’s children, as it should be. Particularly when parents are fit, available, have always had custody and the children are thriving under their parents care. The bar needs to be set very high, these litigating nonparents should have to prove that the child is suffering actual significant harm as a result of no contact, before the State can use its police powers to interfere and force visits.

    The parent-child relationship is the most important relationship in a child’s life. Good parents protect their children’s best interests. These visitation laws sabotage that relationship and allow nonparents to undermine parental authority and teach children insecurity with the parents they need to trust and depend on. Allowing the state to interfere with fit, available parental decision-making is anti-parent, anti-family. We are in serious danger as a society when the States have this ability to micro-manage our families, for no other reason than it thinks its decision is better than a fit parents. The states have just expotentially expanded the boundaries of the parens patriea approach to families. Indeed, this is the same path Hitler took in his liberal application of the State police powers to commit genocide. Make no mistake, we are on this same path. The state wants to take all decision-making power away from parents.

    Parents have the duty and the right to encourage only healthy relationships and to set boundaries for our children so they learn how to choose positive relationships and to secure their own personal safety. The States and courts are on a collision course with the US Constitution and our basic rights as guaranteed by the Constitution are in serious jeopardy. As Americans, we need to get back to the Constitutional basics of freedom, liberty, and self-determination. The Constitution was designed to guarantee our rights and to protect us from the tryanny of all-powerful government. Parents, don’t abdicate your role as decision-maker for YOUR children. As long as children have at least one fit, available parent, the state needs to trust the parent, support the parent-child relationship, and adhere to traditional limitations of state interference into the privacy of family life. Without this, we are reduced to a distrustful, adverserial police state where all parents are “bad” for their own children and the State runs our families while parents are reduced to “birthing entities” and financial obligors, nothing more.

    Is this the type of society we want to live in?

    The best chance grandparents have of having a good relationship with the parent’s children is to have a good relationship with the children’s parents. That, ultimately is in the BEST interest of children.

  7. Randy says:

    Be that as it may, not all grandparents are created equal. While noone can take away another’s right to have their “day” in court, why does being a grandparent entitle one to sue for unsupervised access to someone else’s children? That makes no sense. Has some law been broken, some crime committed? Or is this just a difference of opinion? Why are these grandparents trying so hard to separate the children from their good, loving parents? Shouldn’t that be a big red flag to the court? Is it really in a child’s best interest to have a court cause emotional harm on the child, cause financial ruin of the family, for the sake of regular playdates with a nonparent? It sounds like these laws allow the courts to re-draw the boundaries of parenting and of using one’s own judgment, unrelated to child endangerment.

    Wise, supportive grandparents encourage parents to take care of their own children, encourage the bond between the children and the parents, are glad to help out, stepping in only when the children are in actual danger, which is quite rare. If grandparents do not want to be baby-sitters or quasi-parents, they need to be supportive, but clear as to when the parents can impose on them.

    It is usually when the grandparents over-step their bounds and undermine the parents or engage in hateful behavior, like bad-mouthing parents or child abuse, that the parents rightfully shield their children from these harmful people. The parent-child relationship must take precedence.

    Read the Troxel opinion. It does specify certain cardinal principles that are well-established. It emphasizes the paramount and fundamental nature of the parent-child relationship and of parental decision-making. It makes clear the limit of state and court interference on decisions by fit, available parents. It DOES NOT say that another persons perception about what a child’s interest in a secondary relationship may be must be placed above the parent’s decision about the relationship. Nor does it say that a court can overrule a parent simply because the magistrate/judge feels a “better” decision can be made. Afterall, the mother in that case was a fit/single/widowed/remarried parent, fully capable of determining what was best for her children.

    The Troxel decision is so clearly pro-parent, only the unwise could miss it.

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  9. KELLY says:

    THE COMMENT LEFT BY JOE GOLDBERG IS CORRECT.FALSE ABUSE REPORTS AGAINST THE NON-CUSTODIAL PARENT ARE HAPPENING MORE AND MORE. I’M A GRANDMOTHER OF A GRANDSON WHO WAS BORN WITH SEVERAL HEART DEFECTS AT BIRTH. I WAS HIS BABYSITTER FOR THE FIRST FEW YEARS OF HIS LIFE UNTIL THE PARENTS SEPERATED AND MY DAUGHTER BECAME INVOLVED WITH AN ABUSIVE MAN. I ASKED MY DAUGHTER ABOUT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HAPPENING IN FRONT OF MY GRANDSON.(HE TOLD ME) SHE CUT OFF ANY CONTACT I HAD WITH MY GRANDSON.I FILED FOR GRANDPARENTS VISITATIONS. FALSE ACCUSATIONS OF ABUSE WERE MADE BY MY DAUGHTER. NO ONE WAS CHARGED BUT THIS IS WHAT HER REASON WAS FOR DENYING ME VISITATION. SINCE I WAS DENIED MY DAUGHTER HAS HAD 3 PROTECTION ORDERS AND SEVERAL CASES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FILED AGAINST THE MAN AND CONTINUED TO STAY WITH HIM.THIS WAS NOT IN THE BEST INTEREST OF MY GRANDSON. HOWEVER, I HAD NO RIGHTS BECAUSE I’M NOT HIS PARENT. I LOVE MY GRANDSON. I’VE BEEN THERE EVERY TIME FOR HIS HEART SURGERY. I’VE FLOWN TO A COUPLE OF OTHER STATES AT THE REQUEST OF BOTH PARENTS TELLING ME THAT I NEEDED TO BE THERE FOR MY GRANDSON BECAUSE OF THE BOND WE HAVE. NOW I’M NOT ALLOWED TO SEE HIM. I UNDERSTAND THERE ARE GOOD PARENTS IN THIS WORLD BUT THE FACT IS THERE ARE ALSO BAD PARENTS THAT USE THEIR CHILDREN A PAWN.

  10. Kym Hymel says:

    I am a grandmother of a 13 year old who will be 14 in June. I have had custody of my grandson since he was six months old. Both parents chose to not be a part of his life. He was born very ill and at two and a half months old was discharged to come home and die with his family. The bio-father had told both me and my grandson that he ran because he didn’t want to face and charges at the time because he was of age and my daughter was only 15. So he left, his mother my daughter left the child behind two months after he came home from the hospital. My husband and I stepped in and cared for this child, we didn’t ask to get a grandson in this way but we did and we accepted him unconditionally. The first ten years of my grandsons life the bio-father was no wheres around. When the bi-father started dating a woman older than him she told him that if he didn’t have a relationship with his child she would not have one with him. Also told to my grandson and myself by the bio-father and the girlfriend. They have laws that protect a foster parent from loosing the child, if the natural parent has no contact no kind of relationship for two years the parental rights can be terminated and the foster parents can adopt. Understand I am all for the foster parents that are in that situation there are kids who need that, but I am a natural grandmother and had custody of this child for the last 13 years, with no help from the parents or the state or anyone else for that matter. I did what they should have done. And there is no law to protect us or my grandson, who has been saying for the last three years he wants nothing to do with this man and the only reason he was going with the bio-father was because he didn’t want me to go to jail for not forcing him to go. He is now on medication for having anixety attacks that cause him to throw up when he has to be with this man. A judge signed a court order today saying that because of a DNA connection he has his rights. THe laws protect only the ones that don’t diserve any protection.

  11. Fedupinpa says:

    We are the adoptive grandparents of our grand daughter, we have had her since she was 8 months old, she just turned 6. We are now being sued by her 72 year old great grandmother, she wants full custody. She has caused soooooooo much trouble and has torn the family apart, the relationship is now unrepairable. She has dragged us into court and it has cost us right around $6000 in six months time and we have not even reached a custody hearing yet. We are a fit, intact family. This grandparent statute needs to be more clear when screwing with fit parents. What used to be a good relationship with her has now dwindle to hoping to see her name in the obituary, she has taken every opportunity to slander and humilate us in public. We are good people who both work and provide for our daughter, we don’t even have speeding tickets on our records. Our biggest mistake was trying to let her have a relationship in the first place. I warn all parents now. This statute in fit cases does more harm than good.

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