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The Troxel decision and the rights of grandparent visitation

Grandparents often relish the time that they get to spend with their grandchildren. Unlike the relationship that develops between a Tennessee parent and their child, the relationship between a grandparent and grandchild is focused on fun rather than discipline. While it is a parent's responsibility to make sure that their child grows up to be a reasonable, caring adult, a grandparent may only be absorbed with the child's enjoyment and making sure that they are having fun.

When parents divorce, though, grandparents may see their time with their grandchildren diminish. Some grandparents have sought to secure visitation time with their child's kids when custodial schedules interfere with their time to spend with the children, but a Supreme Court decision has imposed limitations on how far grandparents' rights may extend when it comes to spending time with their grandchildren.

In Troxel v. Granville, grandparents sued a parent in order to increase their visitation time with a grandchild. The mother of the child had sought to limit the grandparents' visitation to once per month and the grandparents sued to increase that limitation. In a move that confirmed the mother's right to parent her own child, the Supreme Court found the applicable state statute overbroad and too limiting on parents' rights to decide with whom their children spend their time.

To this end, grandparents across the United States may still seek to secure visitation time with their grandkids, but within reason. Parents who are competent and responsible may ultimately have the final say in just how much visitation a grandparent will have, but when time with a grandchild is arbitrarily withheld the issue of grandparents' rights may come into play.

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