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Isabella Brooke Knightly and Austin Gamez-Knightly

Isabella Brooke Knightly and Austin Gamez-Knightly
In Memory of my Loving Husband, William F. Knightly Jr. Murdered by ILLEGAL Palliative Care at a Nashua, NH Hospital

Monday, April 26, 2010

Grandparents rights all about the kids

Grandparents rights all about the kids

Apr 26th, 2010 | By neil | Category: grandparents rights

When grandparents rights are implemented in the way they were intended a great amount of good is the result. Nearly every state in the union has some form of grandparents rights legislation and, according to every court case, custody evaluation, and case study I have read all of these state laws place the emphasis in the best interest of the child.

If there was ever a win-win situation then this is it. If only life were that clear cut.

My heart aches a lot when I read the transcripts of the cases of very abused and neglected children. Story after story of ill-equipped, non-functioning parents that are just trying to show the world that they wield some power over something and the children be damned.

In most cases the courts give these parents opportunity after opportunity to get their act together before any action is taken. In most of these cases it is the grandparents that have come to the rescue of the grandchildren. This is just the kind of circumstances that the grandparents rights laws were enacted for.

It was not long ago that the grandparents would not have had “standing” in the court. The result of this approach was that it took much longer to get the help to the child in crisis where it was needed.

Now that these laws offer grandparents this standing it gives them the right to address the court on behalf of the children, nothing more. It is not a mandate to take any rights from parents, it merely allows a caring grandparent to be heard above the rants and rationalizations of a parent who most often has lost the ability to provide safety and nurture to the child.

To be clear, the court offers the parents every avenue to right the wrong and function in their child’s life. The court uses Comprehensive Custody evaluations to separate the truth from accusations. In most cases a custody study will be carried out by an outside independent Guardian Ad Litem in an effort to be fair to all.

This process will include tools such as psychological testing, chemical dependency evaluations, urinalysis, previous court records, etc. Without belaboring the point let me just say that in every case I have studied the courts go to the mat to protect the parents rights. This approach, while painful for those caring bystanders, is consistent with the United States Constitution as it applies to parental rights.

Parents rights are addressed in the 1st, 5th, 9th and 14th amendments to the constitution which might indicate their importance. You won’t get an argument from me on this point.

Some cast this whole discussion as an argument for parents rights against grandparents rights and that is missing the entire point. The one and only guiding principle and standard for this entire issue, the best interest of the child.

What is this best interest of the child? To this end the court is instructed to consider and evaluate all the relevant factors such as:

The wishes of the child’s parent or parents as to custody.

The reasonable preference of the child, depending on the child’s age.

The input of the child’s primary caregiver if different than parent(s).

The intimacy of the relationship between the child and each parent.

The interaction and relationship of the child with parent(s), siblings, grandparents and anyone else who significantly affects the child’s best interest.

The child’s adjustment to school, home and/or community.

The longevity of a stable and satisfactory environment with a consideration for maintaining continuity.

The security and permanence of a family unit that exists or is being considered for a custodial home.

The physical and mental health of the individuals involved.

The disposition and capacity of the custodial parties to give love, affection and guidance to the child.

The ability to educate and raise the child in the child’s own culture and religion or creed, if any.

The presence in the household of anyone who has allegedly committed domestic abuse.

The physical living conditions of the custodial home.

The willingness of the custodial parent to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact by the child’s other parent, absent any danger to the child.

All of these factors revolve around sole custody…these and many other factors come into play when joint custody is sought.

The point is that these are childrens’ lives and I am not sure everyone wouldn’t be better served if we throw the parents rights and grandparents rights into a blender and created the best interest of the child’s rights.

I encourage anyone who reads this article to learn all they can about the subject of grandparents rights. My goal for caring grandparents and caring parents to make this entire subject all about the child.

Please be well and happy.



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