Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Utah Supreme Court Sets High Bar for Grandparent Visitation Orders

From The Salt Lake Tribune:

In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a "mere disagreement" over a child's best interests cannot override the presumption in favor of a fit parent's decision regarding grandparent visitation.

This week, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that grandparents seeking to override parents must present proof that a visitation order is narrowly tailored to advance a compelling governmental interest — such as protecting children against substantial harm.

In Ellie and Tracy Jones Sr.'s dispute with their former daughter-in-law over visitation with their granddaughter, the couple argued that they had acted in a parent-like role as caregivers. But the state Supreme Court said there was insufficient evidence of such a relationship and upheld a Utah Court of Appeals decision that invalidated a visitation order issued against the wishes of the mother.

"Grandparent visitation orders must be limited to the exceptional case where the failure to override the parent's wishes would cause substantial harm to the child," Associate Chief Justice Thomas Lee wrote for the court in Wednesday's unanimous decision.

The exceptional case identified by state statute is where the grandparent has filled a role similar to that of a parent, Lee said, adding, "No such proof was presented here." Anthony Kaye, an attorney who represents the mother, said Friday that the ruling will subject grandparent visitation orders to strict scrutiny and limit interference in parental decisions regarding visitation.

Read more here.

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/family_law/2015/09/utah-supreme-court-sets-high-bar-for-grandparent-visitation-orders.html

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