Tuesday, January 15, 2013

2013 Indiana Child Custody and Child Related Legislation - Part I Great Grandparent Visitation

Opening day of the Indiana General Assembly was a week ago and marked the beginning of what should be a less volatile and more productive session – precisely what provides a moment of anxious enthusiasm. With a Republican super majority that block can pass legislation without any participation by Democrats. Interestingly, the Democrats have attained the results which they, just as my life coaching partners, have chose for themselves. In the pursuit of goals one must be – or act – in accordance with the desired goal. Conversely, what one does – or one's actions – determines one's station or as it may also be called the results or consequences. Thus, when the Democrats walked away from their obligation to serve their electorate and taxpayers of Indiana who funded their salaries for a job not done during the two most recent legislative sessions the voters responded in kind. Assuring the Democrats obtained their desired goal – to not work as legislators. The basis for my anxious enthusiasm is that the Republican block may now push through an unchecked social agenda without the Democrats applying any brakes. The refuge from a potential tyranny would only be available from the courts. Relief to freedom loving citizens is going to be difficult to attain as long as someone so opposed to individual liberties -- and most notably equity in family law – like Justice Steven David sit on the Indiana Supreme Court. So, onto the actual legislation.

I have identified 40 bills related to children which I have broken into three categories. The legislation I expect to be the most contentious is that related to grandparent and great-grandparent visitation. Representative Steve Davisson has authored House Bill 1101 which would allow great-grandparents to seek visitation rights with their great-grandchildren in certain circumstances. This bill merely adds “great grandparent” to the current grandparent statutory scheme found under IC 31-9-2-48.3, IC 31-14-14-3, and various portions of IC 31-17. Senator Lonnie Randolph has authored Senate Bill 28 which provides a broader application and framework to grandparent and great grandparent visitation. SB28 does little more than add “great grandparent” to the current grandparent statutory scheme found under IC 31-9-2-48.3, IC 31-14-14-3, and various portions of IC 31-17 except in one meaningful way.

31-17-5-1 is amended by this bill to read --
A child's grandparent or great-grandparent may seek visitation rights if: (4) subject to subsection (b), the grandparent or great-grandparent has had meaningful contact with the child but, as a result of an estrangement between the parent of the child and the grandparent or great-grandparent, the parent of the child terminated the child's visits with the grandparent or great-grandparent.

In the current statutory scheme grandparents may seek a visitation order in paternity and dissolution of marriage cases. The rationale behind the existing statutes is that parents will withhold from the child the opportunity to be engaged in a meaningful relationship with the parents of the targeted parent as a perceived form of revenge or punishment against the targeted parent. This is the type of abuse of children that I often see being perpetuated in the high conflict cases in which I participate.

Senator Brent Steele has authored SB0171 which mirrors SB0028. Steele had introduced a similar bill in the 2010 session which resulted in heated debate over the controversial inclusion of bringing intact, married families within the jurisdiction of the family law courts. What became the engrossed bill that year now emerges as Senate Bills 28 and 171.

Although compelling testimony was provide in both support and opposition of the proposal, on balance I believe that it is dangerous to open intact families to the purview and control of the courts which have shown a propensity to harm relationships of parents and their children.

I will attempt to make a daily post about other pieces of legislation introduced to the Indiana general Assembly this year. I currently have one more life coaching partner than I like to at this time of year but I do believe that I can effectively manage my time and stay on top of these legislative matters.

If you are a grandparent or great-grandparent who has been estranged from your grandchildren or great-grandchildren and would like to re-establish your relationship then please visit my website and contact my scheduler to make an appointment to meet with me.

If you would like to follow my activities more closely then send a friend request to my Political FaceBook page.

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More information about child custody rights and procedures may be found on the Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates website.

©2008, 2013 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

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