The Indiana Supreme Court just issued a new decision on grandparent visitation. The court re-affirmed the prior law about when and how much visitation a grandparent can expect to receive. While the case does not radically change the law, it does strongly reinforce the fact that grandparents are still subject to the reasonable determination of the parents as to contact. If the parents have a good reason for their decision, then the judge will likely honor the parent’s decision. Among other things, the court looks to four factors, namely:
- a presumption that a fit parent’s decision about grandparent visitation is in the child’s best interest (thus placing the burden of proof on the petitioning grandparents);
- the “special weight” that must therefore be given to a fit parent’s decision regarding nonparental visitation (thus establishing a heightened standard of proof by which a grandparent must rebut the presumption);
- “some weight” given to whether a parent has agreed to some visitation or denied it entirely (since a denial means the very existence of a child-grandparent relationship is at stake, while the question otherwise is merely how much visitation is appropriate); and
- Whether the petitioning grandparent has established that visitation is in the child’s best interests.
If you have questions regarding this please contact Josh Tourkow.