It's been 14 years since the U.S. Supreme Court's watershed ruling in a grandparent visitation dispute. In the years since, Indiana courts have still struggled to strike a balance between parental rights and the strong desire of grandparents to be a part of the children's lives.
Indiana Code 31-17-5 details the circumstances under which a grandparent may seek visitation of a child. Primarily, these circumstances are when the child's parent has died, the child's parents are divorced or the child was born out of wedlock. The court does not permit paternal grandparent visitation where the child was born out of wedlock and paternity has not been established.
Our Gary child custody lawyers know that above all, the court is going to weigh the best interests of the child. Still, the U.S. Supreme Court's 2000 decision in Troxel v. Granville is considered guiding. Although at the time, many state courts were broadening the rights of grandparents to see their grandchildren, the Troxel case shifted the direction. There, the supreme court held that a Washington state law allowing "any person" to petition a family court for visitation rights was unconstitutional, as it violated a parent's 14th Amendment rights, interfering with a fit parent's right to raise their children as they deem best. The state, the court held, has no grounds to question the parent's decisions in raising those children.