August 28, 2006
Case Law Development: Utah Upholds Constitutionality of Grandparent Visitation Statute
The Utah Supreme Court has upheld its grandparent visitation statute. The statute does not require a showing of harm to the child, but does limit the circumstances in which grandparents may bring an action for visitation. Those situations include "where a family has been divided by some turn of fate--death, divorce, loss of custody, a missing person, or a declaration that a parent is unfit or incompetent."
The statute recognizes that when a family unit has been touched by these events a situation may arise where the child's interests differ from those of the parent. This is particularly true where the direct family line between grandparents and grandchildren has been severed, leaving the "in-law" relationship as the only remaining adult connection. Id. § 30-5-2(2)(c), (e), (f). Recognizing the potential for conflict in the relationship between the parent and the "in-law" and the resulting potential for interference with the grandparent-grandchild relationship, the statute provides an avenue for grandparents and grandchildren to maintain their relationship"
Court noted that the statute was not especially clear and urged the legislature to clarify the statute.
In re Estate of Thurgood, 2006 UT 46; 2006 Utah LEXIS 138 (Utah Supreme Court
August 25, 2006)
Opinion on the web (last visited August 27, 2006 bgf)
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Actually, a showing of harm is a statutory factor (30-5-2(2)(d); though not "required," it was a significant factor in this decision (paragraph 43).
Posted by: Tracy Schofield | Sep 16, 2006 4:43:12 PM