November 25, 2005
Case Law Development: Grandparent Visitation and Domestic Violence
What an eerie testament to the tragedy of domestic violence that three of the grandparent visitation cases in the past six months have involved denials of visitation to paternal grandparents based, in part, on their continued denial or defense of their son’s criminal violence against his wife.
In North Carolina, Maternal Grandparents had been granted custody of their grandchild after Father had arranged an attack on Mother, which resulted in her death and his incarceration. The court of appeals upheld the trial court’s dismissal of their petition to modify their visitation rights, concluding that they had failed to allege a substantial change in circumstances warranting modification. The opinion notes with concern that the Paternal Grandparents continued to deny their son’s role in killing Mother.
Adams v. Wiggins, 2005 N.C. App. LEXIS 2450 (November 15, 2005) Opinion on the web at http://www.aoc.state.nc.us/www/public/coa/opinions/2005/unpub/050099-1.htm (last visited November 25, 2005 bgf)
In Alabama, the appellate court held hat Grandparents had not proven clear and convincing evidence that the child would be substantially harmed by the denial of visitation in a case in which the Grandparents had intervened in Mother’s divorce against Father, brought after he had attempted her murder. Mother had denied visitation because the Grandparents continued to deny Father’s actions, for which he had been criminal convicted, and to blame Mother for Father’s incarceration. C.D.P. v. D.P., 2005 Ala. Civ. App. LEXIS 642 (October 28, 2005)
Finally, the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division (2d) found that the grandmother failed to show any basis for judicial intervention in a custody action in which Father had abducted the children and took them on a nine-month journey across the country until he was arrested in California. The court found that the grandmother attempted to minimize the traumatic impact the abduction had on the children and had engaged in inappropriate behavior, such as “renting a billboard on a busy public road to communicate with the grandchildren, and hiring a private investigator to "spy" on them and on the mother.”
Matter of Kenderes v. Norton, 2005 NY Slip Op 8120; 2005 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 11600 (October 31, 2005) Opinion on the web at http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2005/2005_08090.htm (last visited November 25, 2005 bgf)