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Grandparents' Visitation and the Law

Posted by J. Benjamin Stevens | Oct 30, 2008 | 0 Comments

The ABA Law Trends & News recently published an excellent article by Aaron Larson which examines the issue of grandparents' rights with regard to visitation.  This article gives the background and current state of federal law with regard to this issue, particularly in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Troxell v. Granville from 2000.

Mr. Larson explains that the main arguments made by those in favor of grandparents' rights include:

  • Grandparents may provide a stabilizing role in their grandchildren's lives, particularly after a divorce or crisis (such as the death of a parent).
  • Where grandparents have been involved in a child's life, it can be traumatic to the child to suddenly be denied access.
  • The mere fact that parents are divorced, or the grandparents's child dies or is incarcerated, should not automatically serve to grant the custodial parent the right to sever a positive relationship between the grandparents and their grandchildren.

Of course, those opposing the rights of grandparents focus on the following arguments:

  • The the state has no business interfering with the child-rearing decisions of competent parents, even if the parent determines that grandparent visitation will not be permitted.
  • Some grandparents are excluded from their grandchildren's lives for good cause-for example, because they were abusive to their own children and cannot be trusted with the grandchildren. Some grandparents interfere with ordinary parental decision making, or badmouth one or both parents to the grandchildren, creating unnecessary conflict.
  • Where conflict exists between parents and grandparents, even if the parents are being unreasonable, court interference can destabilize the home environment of the grandchildren.

I wrote an in-depth post a few years ago on this subject, with an emphasis of its application in South Carolina in light of the S.C. Supreme Court's decision in Camburn v. Smith in 2003.  You can read my earlier post by clicking HERE, and you can read Mr. Larson's entire article, "Grandparents' Rights to Visitation" by clicking HERE.

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