Grandparent visitation order reversed; loving relationship alone is not enough- Ky Court of Appeals published opinion

Hamilton v. Duvall

Grandparents filed a petition pursuant to Kentucky’s grandparent visitation statute (KRS 405.021(3)) seeking visitation with the Child of their recently deceased son. Family Court awarded Grandparents visitation with the Child in accordance with the same visitation rights the Father would have been allowed were he still alive. This decision had the effect of depriving the Mother of one-hundred-and-fifty days per year with her Child in favor of the Grandparents’ visitation with the Child. 

Following Troxel v. Granville, 120 S. Ct. 2054 (2000) and Walker v. Blair, 382 S.W.3d 862 (Ky. 2012), the Court of Appeals reversed the Family Court’s decision and held that clear and convincing proof of a loving relationship between grandparents and a child, alone and absent special circumstances, is not enough to overcome the constitutional presumption that a fit parent acts in the child’s best interest regarding the amount of time a child spends with his or her grandparents. In making its decision, the Court of Appeals stated, “No matter how well intended, a grandparent’s petition for visitation beyond a parent’s consent is an attack upon that parent’s superior and fundamental right to make her own determination of her child’s best interest.”

Digested by Emily T. Cecconi