Troxel V. Granville Case

The paternal grandparents brought this case to the courts petitioning for the right of visitation of their granddaughters. The maternal parent (the children’s mother), thus agreed to allow the paternal grandparents to have limited visitation, but would not agree to the extended visitation. The children’s mother then appealed the court’s granting of visitation as unconstitutional. Facts: Tommie Granville and Brad Troxel were in non marital relationship together and had two daughters during the course of this relationship, which ended in 1991.

Brad’s parents (the paternal grandparents) whom he was living with during his relationship to Tommie had regular weekend visits from their granddaughters. In 1993, Brad committed suicide, and Tommie informed his parents that she wanted to shorten the visits from every weekend to once a month. The Troxel’s filed suit for the right to visit their grandchildren, under section 26. 10. 160(3) of the Revised Code of Washington, which permits “any person” to petition for visitation rights “at any time” and authorizes state superior courts to grant such rights whenever visitation may serve a child’s best interest.

The Troxel’s petitioned to the courts requesting two weekend overnight visitation per month and two week visitation over the summer. Granville asked the courts to grant the Troxel’s once a month visitation with no overnight visitation. The courts ruled in favor of the paternal grandparents, but the Court of Appeals reverses the decision saying “the Washington Supreme Court ruled that the statute unconstitutionally interfered with parents’ right to rear their children, according to the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment”.

Issue: Does the Washington statute allowing any person to petition for visitation rights at any time infringe on the liberty interest of parents in the care, custody, and control of their children; which is a violation of an individual’s right according to the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment? Holding: Yes, the statute did infringe on the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. Rationale: (taken from http://www. stompoly. com/article_visitation. htm): * The U. S.

Supreme Court ruled that a parent has the right to make decisions about his or her children’s care, custody, and control, which is perhaps the oldest of the “fundamental liberty interests” recognized by the Court, and violating that right deprives a parent of what is called substantive due process under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution. * The U. S. Supreme Court pointed out that the trial court had not accorded any special weight to the mother’s decision about the grandparent’s visitation, thereby failing to acknowledge the presumption that her decisions were in the children’s best interest. The U. S. Supreme Court stressed that the mother had not totally cut off the grandparents’ visitation, and what the trial court had intervened in was only a dispute about the schedule. Decision: Affirmed Part II: New York Statue §72. In the state of New York, under the Domestic Relations Law and the Family Court Act. Section 72(1) of the Domestic Relations Law, grandparents can gain visitation rights to see their minor grandchildren.

It states: “[w]here either or both of the parents of a minor child, residing within this state, is, or are deceased, or where circumstances show that conditions exist which equity would see fit to intervene, a grandparent may apply to [supreme or family court] and . . . the court, by order after due notice to the parent or any other person or party having the care, custody, and control of such child, to be given in such manner as the court shall prescribe, may make such directions as the best interest of the child may require, for visitation rights for such grandparent or grandparents in respect to such child. This statute does not grant automatic visitation to the grandparents. I have mixed feelings about the statute because it does make sense, but if the grandparents have been found by the courts as fit and not endangering the welfare of the grandchildren, why can’t they be granted automatic visitation. I understand that mother is protecting her children and she should have their best interest at heart, but this is sad and stupid if no present harm was done to the children.

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