Grandparents' Visitation Rights


gaveljanjpg_cropAccording to my wife, my mother, were she alive today, would likely be hauling our kids off to church to be baptised — to which I responded that that would be the last time she saw them.  To undermine a parent’s authority on something as important and fundamental as their religious beliefs is, in my opinion, grounds for terminating contact.  Sneaking kids a cookie on a school night is something I can live with, but attempting to indoctrinate my kids into a belief set that I not only don’t subscribe to but actively oppose is untenable.  While, for us, this is merely conjecture, there are many families where severing contact with the grandparents is in the best interests of the children.  The problem is, in Indiana, the legislature wants to be able to overrule the parents.

There are a pair of bills, HB1055 and SB59, making their way through the Indiana legislature that would alter the existing laws regarding the ability of grandparents to sue for visitation rights (in person or, presumably, virtual).  Currently, when a single, widowed, or divorced parent cuts off contact with a grandparent, a trial judge can overrule them.  The problem is that the current bills extend this to intact families and, as attorney Karen A. Wyle wrote in the Terra Haute Trib-Star, “grandparent visitation litigation is almost always a tragic and counterproductive mistake, with the child the principal victim.”  I can understand that it is wrong for a parent to cut off a grandparent simply because they are a former in-law, but when an intact family is forced to make the difficult decision that it is best the grandparents not be a part of their children’s lives, it seems to me that that is their right.

Of course, it’s not something I have to deal with — my parents are both gone and we have a very good relationship with my in-laws — so it’s quite possible that there is some aspect to this that I, and Ms. Wyle, are missing.  What do you think?

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