Legislature to revisit Grandparent Visitation Act (again) following court ruling

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Last week, the Alabama Supreme Court denied a request from Attorney General Luther Strange to reexamine the constitutionality of the Alabama Grandparent Visitation Act, which allowed grandparents to seek visitation rights to their grandchildren.

The bill was ruled unconstitutional because it violates a parent’s right to decide whom is allowed access to a child.

A bill pre-filed in the Alabama Senate seeks to address those issues found to be unconstitutional.

Sen. Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) filed Senate Bill 55 (SB55) to amend the Grandparent Visitation Act, specifically requiring grandparents to prove that the grandparent has an existing relationship with the child and that visitation is in the best interest of the child.

The bill further establishes the factors that prove a “significant and viable relationship” and the criteria and procedure for filing a petition

Among the criteria for proving a strong relationship to the child, grandparents must provide “any of the following”:

  • Proof that the child resided with the grandparent for at least six months without a parent present
  • Proof that the grandparent had “frequent or regular contact,” that resulted in a “strong and meaningful relationship,” with the child for at 12 months
  • Among the criteria for proving that visitation with a grandparent is in the best interest of the child, grandparents must prove the following:
  • The grandparent has “the capacity to give the child love, affection, and guidance”
  • The grandparent is willing to cooperate with the child’s parent(s) if visitation is allowed
  • The lack of a relationship with the grandparent is likely to cause harm to the child

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