It’s been ten years since the US Supreme Court all but stranded grandparents seeking visitation with their grandchildren out in the cold, but the grandparents of America refuse to be left there … and many state legislators have since taken up their cause, despite the high court’s ruling.
A Wisconsin statute allows a family court to order visitation for grandparents where the grandchildren’s parent has died and it is in the best interests of the children to have visitation with their grandparents.
The Wisconsin Court of Appeals recently held that the statute encompasses overnight visitation.
The children’s surviving father argued that the statute violated equal protection under the law because it treats different types of parents differently based on whether their spouse is alive or dead.
The intermediate appellate court concluded that the distinction was justified by an overriding compelling state interest to protect a child’s interests after the death of a parent.
The father also argued that the overnight visitation awarded at the lower level exceeded the scope of the visitation contemplated by the statute and amounted to an improper “physical placement”.
The appellate court concluded that the plain meaning of the word visitation was consistent with overnight visitation.
Indiana has no statute like Wisconsin’s – yet. Indiana residents and a legislator fighting on their behalf are trying to change that.
Grandparents recently testified before the Indiana legislature about adult children arbitrarily withholding visitation with their grandchildren, maintaining that this hurt the grandchildren as well as the grandparents.
Read more in this Wisconsin Law Journal article: Overnight visitation is not physical placement and this Evansville [IN] Courier & Press article: Grandparents testify in Indy to establish visitation rights.