Ky. Supreme Court Sets New Standards For Consideration of Grand Parent Visitation Rights

The Kentucky Supreme Court has made it harder for grandparents to win visitation with their grandchildren when the child’s parents object.

In a 6-1 ruling, the state’s high court ruled Thursday that parents who oppose giving a grandparent visitation must be presumed to be acting in their child’s best interests.

The court did not strike down Kentucky’s 1984 grandparent visitation law but said a grandparent must present “clear and convincing” evidence to win a right to visit a grandchild over a parent’s objection.

“Kentucky courts cannot presume that grandparents and grandchildren will always benefit from contact with each other,” the court ruled. “If the only proof that a grandparent can present is that they spent time with the child and attended holidays and special occasions, this alone cannot overcome the presumption that the parent is acting in the child’s best interest.”

Writing for the court, Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr., said “the grandparent must show something more — that the grandparent and child shared such a close bond that to sever contact would cause distress to the child.”

Louisville family lawyers not involved in the case said the ruling will make it extremely hard for grandparents to win court-ordered visitation rights over a parent’s objection.

“That is an awful high legal standard,” said former Jefferson Family Court Judge Louis Waterman, adding that it gives “near-total authority” to parents.

The court reversed an order from Jefferson Family Court Judge Dolly Wisman Berry, giving visitation to Donna S. Blair for her grandson B.B, who is now 8, over the objection of his mother, Michelle L. Walker.

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