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Article: Grandparent Visitation Law Grows Up: The Trend Toward Awarding Visitation Only When the Child Would Otherwise Suffer Harm

54 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2008  

Joan Catherine Bohl

Stetson University - College of Law

Abstract

This article describes the general limitation on state authority to intrude on family life as it relates to grandparent visitation cases. It also notes that the right of family autonomy is rooted in common law and is established by seventy-five years of United States Supreme Court decisions as a key component of the Constitution's guarantee of liberty. The article also reviews the analyses of decisions invalidating grandparent visitation statutes on constitutional grounds, noting that the specific terms of these decisions do not limit the right identified to intact families, but instead describe a right belonging to all fit parents. The article further discussed specific aspects of the recent trend in grandparent visitation decisions to limit suits regardless of the parents marital status or biological connection to the child. The article further notes that courts in jurisdictions that have invalidated open-ended grandparent visitation statutes when suit was brought against the child's married natural parents have subsequently recognized the same right to family autonomy where the child's fit parent or parents are single, divorced, or adoptive. The article also explores a trend toward expanding the definition of intact families. It also discussed a trend toward enforcing statutory threshold requirements for a grandparent visitation suit.

Keywords: grandparent visitation, grandparent visitation law, state authority to intrude on family life, family autonomy, grandparent visitation statutes

JEL Classification: K10, K19

Suggested Citation

Bohl, Joan Catherine, Article: Grandparent Visitation Law Grows Up: The Trend Toward Awarding Visitation Only When the Child Would Otherwise Suffer Harm. Drake Law Review, Vol. 48, No. 279, 2000. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1146645

Joan Catherine Bohl (Contact Author)

Stetson University - College of Law ( email )

1401 61st Street South
Gulfport, FL 33707
United States

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