When Father (or Mother) Doesn't Know Best: Quasi-Parents and Parental Deference after Troxel V. Granville
66 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2002 Last revised: 27 May 2015
Date Written: 2003
This Article examines the effect of Troxel v. Granville on visitation disputes between parents and persons who have played a parental role to children not biologically or legally their own, persons the author refers to as "quasi-parents." Relying on psycho-sociological studies, the author compares the dominant model of a grandparent, the most frequent petitioners in visitation disputes, against the quasi-parental role assumed by grandparents in African-American, Latino, and other minority households to illustrate situations in which a quasi-parent may know as well as a parent what is in a child's best interest. Critiquing courts' deference to parents' decisions denying a quasi-parent visitation, the author develops a framework for resolving visitation disputes that protects parents' liberty interests in the care, custody, and control of their children while simultaneously protecting children's interests in maintaining relationships with quasi-parents. Demonstrating that parental deference is not based solely on biology, but on the emotional bond that the law presumes parents and children share, the author proposes that evidence of a quasi-parental relationship with a child rebut the presumption of validity granted to parents' decisions, thereby allowing a court to award visitation under the pre-Troxel best interests of the child standard.
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