Do Grandparents Have the Rights They Should? –


Total Family Alienation

See state-by-state guide to grandparents’ rights.

Coming Soon: As a service to our readers, is establishing the American Grandparents AssociationTM with the goal of becoming a key resource for grandparents who are physically removed from their grandchildren and would like to find a way to visit them.

Richard Kent, a family lawyer at Fairfield, Conn.-based Meyers Breiner & Kent, frequently goes to courtroom battle for grandparents seeking visitation with, or custody of, grandchildren.

“The state of grandparents’ rights is terrible,” says Kent. Under the current laws, if a couple’s adult daughter dies, he says, those grandparents could be denied visitation with their grandchild by the child’s father.

Even if they had what most people would consider a classic grandparent-grandchild relationship and, let’s say, saw their grandchild every Sunday afternoon. But in the eyes of Connecticut law, says Kent, unless grandparents have functioned as de facto parents — meaning they lived with their grandchildren or took care of them while the parents were at work — they are treated no differently than strangers.

“I think it’s absurd that a boy’s father can legally keep his grandparents out of his life,” says Kent, who wrote Solomon’s Choice: A Guide to Custody for Ex-Husbands, Spurned Partners, & Forgotten Grandparents (Taylor Trade Publishing).

Families crumble for any number of reasons: divorce, the death of a parent, drug and alcohol abuse, incarceration. Grandparents in the U.S. do have rights and can seek visitation with grandchildren, but those rights vary from state to state. Understanding your basic rights can help ensure that your relationship with the grandchildren doesn’t end should that with their parents. Of course, every case involves a unique set of facts and grandparents who find themselves suddenly cut off from grandchildren should consult a lawyer to discuss the course of action their specific situations require.

When Grandparents’ Rights Changed

In June 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 6-3 decision on grandparents’ visitation rights in the Troxel v. Granville case. This canceled out a Washington State law that permitted judges to grant visitation to any interested party so long as the visits were in the best interest of the child — even if the parents objected.

The Troxel v. Granville decision was ambiguous because while the majority of the justices agreed that Troxel should be decided a certain way, each had a different reason for doing so which resulted in six written opinions.

This makes it hard for state courts to interpret the decision. Despite this and the narrow set of facts in which the case dealt, Troxel v. Granville has become the basis for all subsequent discussion of grandparents’ rights.

Parent Vs. Grandparent: Whose Call Is It?

The case dates back to 1993, when Brad Troxel committed suicide in Washington State. Brad left behind two daughters and their mother, Tommie Granville, whom he had never married. Brad and Tommie were estranged at the time of his death, but Brad’s parents, Gary and Jenifer, kept visiting their grandchildren after the suicide. When Tommie remarried and her new husband adopted the daughters she’d had with Brad, Tommie limited the grandparents’ visits.

The Troxels wanted more time with their grandchildren and went to court for it, citing Washington State’s third-party visitation law, which said they had the right to visit so long as it was in the best interest of the children. A trial judge agreed.

The Supreme Court, however, did not and found the Washington State law “breathtakingly broad,” arguing that it infringed upon parental rights. It struck down the Washington Supreme Court’s decision, which had granted the Troxel grandparents rights to more visitation.

While groups such as AARP filed court papers in favor of grandparents’ rights, the parents’ rights groups hailed the Supreme Court decision in favor of Tommie Granville a victory. Groups such as the Coalition for the Restoration of Parental Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union applauded the decision which gave “fit” parents the final say on how to raise their children — including whether grandparents could see them.

Laws Differ State by State

At the most basic level, all states require grandparents to prove that the visits they seek are in the best interest of the grandchild. This generally means grandparents must show that their visits won’t be harmful in any way, and that they aren’t abusive or otherwise dangerous to the child. Beyond this initial hurdle, each state has a different threshold for when it will allow grandparents to take a case to court.

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Protect Your Children In Divorce And Family Courts Investigate Their Lawyers.

Top 10 Pieces of Bad Divorce Advice Lawyers Give Clients

1. “Normal” visitation for a Non-custodial parent is every other weekend and one evening per week. Says who?!! There is no law in any state that I know of that says a non-custodial parent’s visitation is limited to every other weekend and one evening per week. Yes, that is a schedule that many people use. So what? How much time parents spend with their kids depends on the parents and on the kids. What works in one family is a mess in another. Your parenting time should be based on what is best for YOUR children and not what some “normal” visitation schedule is or should be.

10 Pieces of Bad Divorce Advice that Lawyers Give Clients2. 50/50 parenting time is not good for children. Again, says who? In some cases, 50/50 parenting is fabulous for the children. It is exactly what they need. In other cases, 50/50 parenting is a disaster! Either the children are too young, or the parents live too far away, or there are other reasons why a different parenting schedule would work better. Parenting schedules should be made based upon the particular facts of each case.

3. Joint custody is only in the children’s best interest if the parents get along. This one is true, but only partially. Yes, joint custody requires parents to be able to work together for the children. But you don’t have to get along on everything in order to make joint custody work. You just have to be able to communicate with each other and agree on what is relevant to your children.

4. Mediation takes longer than fighting in court. This is just plain, straight up, not true. Are there cases where mediation takes a long time? Sure. Are there cases which are resolved in mediation in a couple of sessions? Absolutely. While statistics vary widely, all of the statistics I have ever seen say that resolving your case through mediation is quicker than fighting in court.

5. The average divorce takes 7 – 13 months. Accurate divorce statistics are extremely difficult to compile. Different sources “quote” different statistics, all of which say different things. So, whenever someone starts quoting you statistics, be careful! The bigger question, though, is: Why does it matter? When you are going through a divorce, do you really care how long the “average” divorce (whatever that is) takes? Or, do you care how long your case takes?

6. If you get a good divorce lawyer s/he won’t let you make mistakes. Your divorce lawyer does not run your life. Your divorce lawyer doesn’t (and shouldn’t) make decisions for you! Even if s/he did, contrary to what some divorce lawyers would have you believe, lawyers are only lawyers. We are not magicians. We can’t protect you from every pitfall in life, or even in your divorce. The best we can do is tell you where the pitfalls are and help guide you so that you avoid them.

7. Retirement plans are usually divided equally. Not really. Retirement plans are simply one asset in your marital estate. How the retirement plans are divided in any case depends upon all of the facts and circumstances of that case, as well as whether the state you live in is a community property state, or an equitable distribution state.

10 Pieces of Bad Divorce Advice that Lawyers Give Clients8. You need to get a restraining order when you start your divorce to keep your spouse from stealing assets.Starting out your case by running into court to get a restraining order is a great way to set the stage for World War III before you even know whether there will be a battle! If your spouse is about to drain the bank accounts and fly to Tahiti with his/her new sweetie, then, yes! You may need a restraining order. But in most cases, getting a restraining order – particularly without first having a good reason for doing it – is a bad idea.

9. You are not allowed to tell your children about your divorce until two weeks before your divorce is final. I don’t know who came up with this idea, but, from a legal perspective, it is just plain wrong. Courts are always trying to do what is in the best interest of the children. Every child in every case is different. I don’t think there is, or should be, any blanket rule about a precise date on which children should be told about a divorce.

10. If you don’t hire an aggressive lawyer to protect you in your divorce, you will end up with nothing. This sounds to me like a trial lawyer’s marketing statement. Is it true? Sometimes yes, and sometimes no. If your spouse is purposely hiding assets, or threatening you with physical abuse, or refusing to cooperate in your divorce, then you may need an aggressive lawyer to protect you. On the other hand, if you and your spouse are still civil with each other and want to resolve your case amicably, hiring an aggressive lawyer is the worst thing you can do.

Protect Your Children In Divorce And Family Courts: Investigate Their Lawyers..

Termination of Parental Rights – Florida Case Kingsley v. Kingsley

OMG! I have found the mother load of all cases.

Kingsley v. Kingsley, 623 so. 2d 780 18 Fla: district court of appeals, 5th district, 1993 – google scholar

This 1 case will give you all the necessary cases to beat DCF on TPR cases in Florida.e3b2e-flag-of-florida

Other states, possibly because this case list constitutional law and federal law. Although this mother lost her parental rights because of  “clear and convincing evidence” of abandonment, our 5th DCA gave everyone in Florida an opinion so detailed with any case to support your argument against TPR that everyone should send the 5th DCA letters of thank you.

Anyone dealing with TPR need to read this case and get out the necessary cases they need to fight DCA. Every state should be interested in this case.

Kingsley v. Kingsley, 623 so. 2d 780 18 fla: district court of appeals, 5th district, 1993-google scholarChild on the stand - 2016

Writ Of Mandamus Against The Trial Court Judge

Writ of Mandamus in Family Law Cases

On occasion a trial court may abuse its discretion with respect to rulings on family law cases so as to warrant an immediate review by a higher court. This process is called a writ of mandamus against the trial court judge making the incorrect ruling or abuse of discretion.

To be entitled to the extraordinary relief of a writ of mandamus, the relator must show that the trial court clearly abused its discretion and he has no adequate remedy by appealIn re Team Rocket, L.P., 256 S.W.3d 257, 259 (Tex. 2008) (orig. proceeding). A trial court clearly abuses its discretion if it reaches a decision so arbitrary and unreasonable as to amount to a clear and prejudicial error of law. Walker v. Packer, 827 S.W.2d 833, 839 (Tex. 1992) (orig. proceeding). In determining whether the trial court abused its discretion in the resolution of factual matters, the court of appeals may not substitute its judgment for that of the trial court and may not disturb the trial court’s decision unless it is shown to be arbitrary and unreasonable. In re Sanders, 153 S.W.3d 54, 56 (Tex. 2004) (orig. proceeding) (per curiam). Therefore, the relator must establish that the trial court could have reached only one decision. Walker, 827 S.W.2d at 840. An abuse of discretion does not exist if the trial court bases its decision on conflicting evidence and some evidence supports the trial court’s decision. IKB Indus. (Nigeria) Ltd. v. Pro‑Line Corp., 938 S.W.2d 440, 445 (Tex. 1997); Ruiz v. Conoco, Inc., 868 S.W.2d 752, 758 (Tex. 1993).

Appellate courts do not generally overrule trial court rulings, especially when conflicting evidence are submitted by opposing parties. Such was the case in the recent ruling by the 14th Court of Appeals last February in the case of In Re John W. Small who asked the higher court to compel the presiding judge of County Court at Law No. 1 of Galveston County, to set aside her October 31, 2008 order finding relator in contempt for failing to pay court-ordered temporary spousal support to real party in interest, Murriah S. McMaster, and to to reverse her November 1, 2005 order awarding temporary spousal support to McMaster. Because the trial court did not abuse its discretion, writ of mandamus was denied.


Fight Corrupted Family Courts and CPS

OMG! I have found the mother load of all cases. This 1 case will give you all the necessary cases to beat DCF on TPR cases in florida. Other states, possibly because this case list constitutional law and federal law. Although this mother lost her parental rights because of “clear and convincing evidence” of abandonment, our 5th dca gave everyone in florida an opinion so detailed with any case to support your argument against TPR that everyone should send the 5th dca letters of thank you. Anyone dealing with TPR need to read this case and get out the necessary cases they need to fight DCA. Every state should be interested in this case.

Kingsley v. Kingsley, 623 so. 2d 780 18 fla: district court of appeals, 5th district, 1993-google scholar

You’re welcome!

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Why the Genetics of Psychopathy Matters in Child Custody

George Bernard Shaw said,

“We live in an atmosphere of shame. We are ashamed of everything that is real about us; ashamed of ourselves, of our relatives, of our incomes, of our accents, of our opinion, of our experience, just as we are ashamed of our naked skins.”

What is Generational Shame and
How Does it Affect Us?


The concept of shame can often be misunderstood and confused with guilt. The “cliff note” definition is we feel guilty for what we do and we feel shame for what we are. There are basically two types of shame, healthy shame and toxic shame. Healthy shame lets us know when our actions have gone too far (such as alerting us that we are not the center of the universe), it is the foundation of our conscience. Toxic shame is feeling we are defective and unworthy (for example, “You can never do anything right! Why can’t you be more like your brother?!”)

This type of shame has been “given” to you by another. Meaning, we generally shame others as we ourselves have been shamed.

By the time we are an adult we have approximately 25,000 hours of tapes in our heads of repetitive words, actions, and messages about who we are at the core of our being. By the time we are an adult we truly believe we are either adequate or inadequate as a person.

Many experts say shame may play a major role in a host of personal and social problems, such as eating disorders, drug abuse, compulsions, depression, anxiety and rage issues. This powerful emotion has its roots in childhood, but as an adult it becomes a lifelong struggle to heal shame in order to feel worthwhile and good about oneself. The younger we were shamed the more embedded it is in our psyche.

Why have I chosen this topic and how is it related to parenting?

I believe we often go unconscious when reacting to our children for any reason we deem unacceptable or narcissistically embarrassing. This “unconscious” process stems from somewhere, it did not just appear. We are not born “defective”. Hence, the title: generational shame.

As a parent it is paramount that our child experiences our empathy, presence, compassion, and limit setting. So that when they have a temper tantrum and we are exasperated we do not abandon them emotionally. On the contrary, this is when they need you to “hold” them physically and emotionally the most.

This is challenging, especially if we were not treated with the same tolerance and acceptance of our own emotional outbursts as a child. I don’t know about you but I was spanked on occasion and I cannot tell you why I was spanked – I just remember feeling scared, terrified and sore. It taught me to be afraid of adults and authority figures, it did nothing for my sense of self.

As a biased mother of four beautiful children I have been afforded the presence of mind and foresight not to use physical punishment or abusive shame to get my child to “shape up.” And, guess what? They are really good kids, full of opinions and who feel safe in their home. I did not pass the baton of shame.
I may not be perfect, but I’m certainly not abusive.

How can we help ourselves to stay present in our interactions with our children?

I think “mindfulness” and reflecting on what might be going on in your child’s mind is a great start. When you find yourself getting impatient, irritated, exasperated, angry, and irritable, take a breath. Stop interacting. Reflect on your emotional state and how you could respond differently.  Ask yourself what it is that’s being triggered inside of you? What is your child really saying with their words and actions? Why are they behaving the way they are?

These questions are what “reflective parenting” is all about; keeping your child’s mind, in mind.  Reflective parenting is about a conversation and next week I’m going share different ways to engage in that conversation so that all of us have the opportunity to break the chain of generational shame.