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U.S. Supreme Court declines hearing grandparents' rights case

Every state, including Texas, has a law regarding grandparent visitation that can allow a judge to require regular access to grandchildren. However, the line surrounding grandparents' rights is a bit fuzzy. What if the parents of a child ask a judge not to allow regular visits with the grandparents? Is making such a request a right of the parents?

That sticky issue has been the subject of court disputes recently. One case went through the court system in another state before heading to the U.S. Supreme Court, which could have set a clear constitutional standard on the issue. Instead, however, the court declined to hear the case.

The dispute involves an intact family with a mother, father and two children, according to the Christian Science Monitor. The kids, both girls, were close with their paternal grandparents. But a business dispute caused the parents to become estranged from the grandparents. The parents didn't want the grandparents to see the girls anymore.

The grandparents, not surprisingly, were upset about this and took opportunities to make sure the girls knew they loved them, such as attending sports games and putting signs along the girls' bus routes. Eventually they petitioned the court for regular visitation.

At first, a judge granted them visitation one afternoon a week, but that was overturned on appeal. In a state supreme court, the parents' right to decide was upheld, and a state law regarding grandparent visitation was struck down.

Even though the U.S. Supreme Court will not hear the case, the dispute is not necessarily over. Laws in the state and others could be re-examined as people continue to ask the question, "When can a judge grant visitation to grandparents if the parents object?"

Source: Christian Science Monitor, "Do grandparents get visitation rights? Supreme Court declines case," Warren Richey, Feb. 21, 2012

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