Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney
Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney About Us Personal Injury Family Law Community Outreach Contact Us
Call Our Offices Now View Our Testimonials Visit Our Personal Injury Blog

Grandparental Visitation

What rights do grandparents have with regard to custody and visitation? In the last two decades, grandparents have taken a more active role in their grandchildren's lives; whether it be because the parents are separated, busy with work, addicted and AWOL, or generally leave most duties to their parents. Grandparents have become more actively involved with their grandchildren than in times past. Indeed, on some occasions, grandparents have taken over the role of parent, particularly when the biological parents cannot afford to raise their kids or are so addicted that they can no longer take care of themselves, let alone their children.

It is in those cases that disputes often arise. The problem is, when parents disappear, generally due to addiction, sometimes due to poverty, they often come back, clean or employed, whatever the case may be, ready to parent their kids again. By then, the grandparents are reticent to give up the role they've taken and wish, to at, least continue to see their grandchildren on a regular basis. The biological parents having no interest in anyone telling them what to do with regard to their own children, particularly not their parents, whom they often cannot stand, parents often restrict contact to the grandparents, or deny it all together.

In those cases, Nevada law provides for grandparents to seek visitation of their grandchildren where they have formed a bond and are being unreasonably denied visitation. However, the constitutionality of such statutes is questionable. Indeed, in Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57, (2000), the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) struck down a similar statute in Washington which allowed any person to seek custody or visitation with any child at any time.

The SCOTUS held that the statute was unconstitutional because it gave no weight or consideration to the parents' wishes. Instead, such a statute left that decision to the state, in violation of a parent's due process right to rear their children. The SCOTUS made clear that it was the parents' decision, in the first instance, to decide with whom and under what circumstances a child visits with anyone. Washington's statute replaced that determination with a state court judge's decision on the matter.

However, because of the "sweeping breadth" of the Washington statute, the SCOTUS did not consider or define the precise scope of the parental due process right in the visitation context. That is, under what circumstances does an award of visitation to grandparents, or any interested third party, impermissibly infringe on a parents' constitutionally protected due process right?

That question remains open and will be dealt with in a subsequent blog. Stay tuned.