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October 11, 2005
Case Law Development: Ohio Supreme Court Upholds Constitutionality of Grandparent Visitation Statute
The Ohio Supreme Court resolved a split among its districts and upheld the constitutionality of its grandparent visitation statute. In the case, Father and Mother had never married, but had a child together. Mother had custody until the child was about 2 years old, when Mother died. Maternal Grandparents obtained an order of custody over child. After continued legal skirmishes, father finally obtained custody when the child was five years old. Grandparents filed a motion seeking visitation. The juvenile court denied the motion, concluding that under the standards established by the US Supreme Court’s decision in Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000), Grandparents had not presented evidence sufficient to overcome the required presumption that Father's decisions regarding visitation were in the child's best interest.
The court of appeals reversed and the Ohio Supreme Court agreed. The court distinguished the Ohio statute from that of the Washington statute in Troxel. Unlike the Washington legislation, Ohio statutes specifically require judges to consider the parents' wishes in determining whether visitation with a non-parent is in the child's best interest. Moreover, unlike the Washington visitation statute, the Ohio statute allows only a limited class of persons to seek custody.
Harrold v. Collier, 2005-Ohio-5334 (October 11, 2005)
Opinion on the web at http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/rod/newpdf/0/2005/2005-ohio-5334.pdf (last visited October 11, 2005 bgf).
Read about the decision in the New York Times.