Monday, June 3,2002


Supreme Court decision puts grandparents on restrictive access to their grandchildren


A story released today by the PRNewswire reports that according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, grandparents are more restricted in getting court-ordered access to their grandchildren two years after the U.S. Supreme Court's historic decision in Troxel v. Granville.

"We see more restrictions and more narrow construction of when the courts will require access for grandparents and other third parties," says J. Lindsey Short, Jr. of Houston, the Academy's president.

Since Troxel, however, courts in at least 10 states have ruled their non- parent visitation laws either unconstitutional on their face or unconstitutionally as applied to non-parent visitation cases. In several other states legislatures have amended their statutes to comply with the holding in Troxel.

"In the years prior to Troxel, grandparent and third-party rights generally had been expanding as courts placed increasing emphasis on the best interests of the children," according to Mary Kay Kisthardt, editor of the Academy's Journal and a professor of Law at the University of Missouri - Kansas City School of Law. "Following Troxel, the courts generally are requiring a much stronger showing before they will intervene," she said.

The Academy has proposed a model statute pursuant under which courts could order third-party contact with a child when there was a pre-existing relationship, the courts found that a child would suffer "serious loss" if the contact were not awarded and "the parent or custodian's denial of contact was unreasonable and not in the child's best interests."

"Sometimes children will develop meaningful relationships with adults which parents wish to sever for reasons unrelated to the best interests of their children. In such cases, the Academy believes the courts should have limited authorization to consider whether court-ordered contact is appropriate over parental objection," according to Short.




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