Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Case Law Development: Maine Supreme Court Strikes down Grandparent Visitation Standing Based on Death of Parent
The Maine Supreme Court holds its grandparent visitation statute unconstitutional to the extent it grants grandparents standing to sue for visitation when one parent has died. "In effect, the Act adopts a per se rule that the fact of a parental death in itself justifies imposing on the surviving parent the burden of litigation that ...itself infringes on the parent's fundamental rights and may result in court-ordered visitation that more significantly infringes those rights. We do not see, however, how the fact of a parental death standing alone can be an urgent reason for a court's interference in family life over the objections of a custodial parent.... We conclude that the death of one parent in itself is not an urgent reason that justifies forcing the surviving parent into litigation under the Act.... In the absence of a compelling state interest, forcing Patricia to defend against the grandparents' visitation petition for the sole reason that her daughter's father is dead would violate her substantive due process rights."
Conlogue v. Conlogue, 2006 ME 12 (February 9, 2006)
Opinion on the web (last visited February 14, 2006 bgf)