Alabama Grandparent’s Rights Guidelines

Grandparent’s Rights In Alabama

In 2010, the Alabama legislature passed an enhanced grandparent visitation act, strengthening the rights of grandparents to have visitation with their grandchildren. Conditions for grandparent visitation rights include a determination of whether a parent is deceased, the child’s parents are divorced, or the grandparent has been denied visitation.  The more difficult situation arises when the parents are still married and alive.

While Alabama’s new legislation confers upon grandparents the right to visitation even when the parents oppose it, recent Alabama Supreme Court precedent seems to overrule this aspect of the Alabama law.In Troxel v. Granville, The United States Supreme Court found that parents have a fundamental due process right in decisions involving their children, including whether to allow visitation with their grandparents.  The Troxel decision arose out of grandparent visitation legislation in the State of Washington which the United States Supreme Court found infringed on parental rights. The Alabama Supreme Court appears to have followed the decision in Troxel in finding those portions of the Alabama law unconstitutional along the same lines.   It was held that Alabama’s Grandparents Visitation Act unconstitutionally violated the parents due process rights.  The court held that children’s parents have the sole authority to determine with whom their children have contact, unless the parents themselves have lost their parental rights.

While this seems to prevent grandparents from obtaining visitation over the objection of two living and married parents, the Alabama statute can still be interpreted to give grandparents substantial visitation rights, when they’ve been denied, under other circumstances.

Such situations include when:

–          The parents are no longer married

–          One or both of the parents is deceased,

–          The child was abandoned by a parent, or

–          The child was born outside of marriage.

–          If one of the above situations exists, the family court judge will consider the following in determining whether to Order grandparent visitation:

–          Whether the grandparents will help foster the relationship between the child and their parents,

–          The health of the grandparents,

–          The wishes of the parents, and

–          The desires of the minor child.

The overriding consideration for the family court judge, just as in child custody determinations, is what is in the best interests of the child.  If the grandparent can show it is in the best interests of the child to have contact with the grandparents, it is likely visitation will be ordered.

ALABAMA FAMILY ASSISTANCE

(334) 242-1773 or (334) 242-1950

Note:  The foregoing information is provided as general child support law guidelines in the state of Alabama and should not be considered as legal advice specific to your case.  After reviewing the above material, you will be presented with the opportunity to submit more details specific to your case directly to About The Children.

Submitted by Linda O’Marie, Paralegal

AboutTheChildren.org

Call (800) 787-4981

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Posted in Alabama Guidelines
4 comments on “Alabama Grandparent’s Rights Guidelines
  1. Sherie says:

    I am the daughter in law in a difficult situation. My in laws are threatening to file for custody. My husband and I are married. I am a RN and my husband is a pilot. A normal loving family with zero abuse, drug use, etc. The grandparents see our children daily since we are currently living with them. My values are quite different from theirs. I am from Canada and they are from the Deep South. The problem is that I feel they should not interfere with our parenting. We have asked them to stop being so critical of our son. He is ten. My mom in law has a vicious temper with me. Now you would think it would be easy, just move out. We are trying to sell our home and I believe we can afford to rent. Our home is in another state. Unfortunately, I am very ill. I have been going through chemo and I have surgery scheduled for February. They told my husband they wanted me to leave. They want to keep the children. He is gone over two weeks of the month. I feel sympathy towards the grandparents that are denied custody just because. However, I am glad the Supreme Court believes this law is unconstitutional. I shouldn’t have to fight for my children because I am ill. Some people have their own agenda in place not the best interest of the children. Being a grandparent does not give you addition wisdom nor should it give you any rights to access children that are not your own. Particularly at the expense of the parents rights.

    • Hi Sherie thanks for writing to us. This is an important issue that a lot of parents need to hear about and are currently going through. With most of these issues, it comes down to communication. Maintaining positive modes of communicating within a family is crucial to keep a good balance on things and ensure that everyone is heard and understood. In your particular situation, it looks like this is something that could be solved by just talking it out. Obviously this is easier said than done. You might want to look into having someone stand in and facilitate this process of talking everything over. As the mother of your children, you have the right to say how your kids are parented but the grandparents also need to be included somehow. Keep reading our blog for any additional tips that may be helpful. Thanks for writing in.

      (800) 787-4981

  2. Deborah Rutherford says:

    I have adopted my daughter. She is a family child. The bio grandmother is my sister in law. We have been fighting the grandmother from having visitation to my child due to her behavior towards us for adopting her. This woman can not accept the fact that we have adopted. She does not encourage a relationship between us and our daughter. She tells her we are not her parents. The child is only 6 and is a special needs child. She is mentally delayed and has PDD-NOS. The courts gave the grandmother visitation knowing what the grandmother is telling our daughter. What should we do to stop the visits? It clearly is not in the best interest of the child to be going through this. My daughter does not want to see her. It has gotten so out of hand that the visits have been made supervised and still she continues to belittle us to our daughter. The courts does not seem to care. We have asked the courts to stop the visits but we are denied. We have tried to talk to the grandmother but she refused to do any better.

    • Hi Deborah, this is a really important issue. First off, it’s great that you adopted, there are so many kids out there that need good loving families to be a part of and you’re definitely adding something good to the world. The main thing, which you already touched on, is what is in the best interest of the child. It’s clear that you have them in mind and that the grandmother does not. The things that the grandmother is telling the child can actually create a lot of identity issues later on in life and should be corrected now before the child gets older. There is a lot of psychological research to back this up. And this is what you might want to bring to the court. If you really want to bring the issue into court and get this taken care of once and for all and get a court order solidifying custody and visitation for yourself, as their parent, you need to back up your claims. Talk to a psychologist, you might even want to bring them in on this. Having another professional opinion to add to the mix like this is great. Judges do not want hearsay in the court room either, so if the grandmother is putting bad ideas into your child’s head, find a way to document this and show the judge that these visits with the grandmother are actually detrimental to the child’s overall well being. You might want to speak to an attorney about what your rights are as well. We’re not a long firm and can’t give you any legal advice but family court is not like criminal court, it’s not like what you see on television, which I’m sure you already know. Keep following the blog for more relevant information for your current situation. Thanks for writing to us.

      (800) 787-4981

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