FLASH!! The worm turns again; only this time, it’s a Grandpa Worm!
Have I got your attention? A number of times in this series of articles, it has been mentioned that something can happen in our legal system and Laws, that simply changes everything. It could be something the Legislature passes; or it could be a new interpretation of a prevailing law by a Supreme Court, or one of any number of our Federal and State Appellate Courts. Think of the “Emancipation Proclamation” and the “Civil Rights Act.” How about “Miranda vs. Arizona” or “Roe vs. Wade”.
Back in July of 2012, I published an Article in this space, that asked the question: “What About the Rights of Grandparents and Grand Kids?” The answer to the question was that, pretty much, such rights are “little or nothing.” That Article went on to point out that, “[i]t might be a surprise, but in California, grand parents have no rights with regard to custody and visitation with their grandchildren.” The only possible exception could be, “[i]f a grand parent could convincingly show to a court, that it would be adverse to the best interests of a grandchild, to be deprived of contact with his or her grandparent, a judge might well order the contact. However, even that would be a rare occurrence.”
Now, and as of March of this year, a Trial Court in this State, and the Appellate Court to which the Trial Court’s decision was appealed, sustained the Judgment of the Trial Court, which granted as much as 20% of the total available time with a child to his grand parents; including, a full weekend every month; and, another overnight each mid-week; in addition to a seven-day vacation each year! And, if that weren’t enough, the Trial Court awarded attorneys fees to the grandparents, and as payable by the natural parents. So, “what’s the deal?” In one case, the grandparents were held to have no rights; and therefore got no court ordered time; but, in another court, the grandparents got 20% of the total time, and attorneys fees “to boot.”
Here’s what I think is the secret: in all of these cases, if ya really think about it, we’re not really talking about the rights of the grandparents, at all. What we’re really talking about, are the rights of the kids! Remember, in each of the cases mentioned here, the courts ruled in support of the “best interests” of the grand kids; not the parents or the grandparents. The parents otherwise very broad parenting prerogatives are not therefore unlimited (the First Amendment of our Federal Constitution’s Bill of Rights not withstanding) when it comes to the Best Interests of children.