Grandparents' Rights in Social History of American Families: An Encyclopedia, pp. 642-644, Lawrence Ganong, ed., 2014
3 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2013 Last revised: 2 Feb 2016
Date Written: September 27, 2013
This encyclopedic entry considers the law and public policy regarding grandparents’ rights and visitation, focusing on Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000). In this United States Supreme Court case, the grandparents petitioned for visitation with their out-of-wedlock grandchildren under a Washington statute that allowed any person to petition the court for visitation rights at any time. The United States Supreme Court ultimately held that the Washington statute permitting such visitation unconstitutionally interfered with the fundamental right of parents to rear their children. In applying Troxel, states must consider the competing public policies when tailoring their approach to grandparent visitation. On the one hand, grandparent visitation may be best for the child. On the other hand, grandparent visitation statutes raise the issue of whether, and to what extent, a fit parent is free to decide with whom the child associates without state intervention. Both are important, but competing, considerations that must be balanced.
Keywords: family law, domestic relations, grandparents' rights, grandparents' visitation, child visitation, grandparents, Troxel, Granville, parents' rights, liberty interest, parental autonomy
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