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2/17/2006 11:47:07 AM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Washington--Calls Needed to Oppose Grandparent Visitation Bills

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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February 17, 2006

Dear HSLDA members and friends:

There are two bills in the Washington legislature that would permit
grandparents to petition the court for visitation rights against the
wishes of parents. House Bill 2711 and Senate Bill 6683 would permit a
grandparent to ask the court to order visitation even when the family
is intact and the parents believe it to be in the best interest of
their children to keep them from seeing their grandparents.

These bills should be strongly opposed as an attack on parental
rights. Instead of presuming that fit parents make decisions in the
best interest of their children, these bills only require the court to
give "some deference" to the decisions of fit parents.

Please contact your state representative and senator and urge them to
defeat these bills.

ACTION REQUESTED:

1) Please call and email your state representative and give them this
message in your own words:

"Please oppose House Bill 2711. This bill violates a parent's
fundamental right to direct the care, custody, and control of their
children. A fit parent should always be presumed to be making
decisions in the best interest of their children and this bill does
not. Please ensure that House Bill 2711 is defeated."

Do not identify yourself as a homeschooler; instead you can identify
yourself as a concerned parent and taxpayer.

To find contact information for your state representative please go to
HSLDA's legislative toolbox at http://www.hslda.org/toolbox and enter
your ZIP code.

2) Please call and email your state senator and give them this message
in your own words:

"Please oppose Senate Bill 6683. This bill violates basic parents'
rights concerning their children. A fit parent should always be
presumed to be making decisions in the best interest of their
children. This bill does not. Please ensure that Senate Bill 6683 is
defeated."

Do not identify yourself as a homeschooler; instead you can identify
yourself as a concerned parent and taxpayer.

To find contact information for your state senator please go to
HSLDA's legislative toolbox at http://www.hslda.org/toolbox and enter
your ZIP code.


BACKGROUND:

Over the years, HSLDA has represented member families in conflict with
grandparents who did not like homeschooling. These grandparents would
try to stop the homeschooling through various means, including turning
the family over to child welfare services. Thankfully, most
grandparents we come in contact with at HSLDA support homeschooling
and in some situations even participate in the teaching.

However, H.B. 2711 and S.B. 6683 would give grandparents the right to
sue parents for visitation. If this bill becomes law, they could
petition the court for visitation rights "regardless of whether there
is a pending dissolution, legal separation, or modification of a
parenting plan proceeding."

Of course, if a grandparent brings a suit under this act, the court
may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the child and order
family mediation and a psychological evaluation of the child. Under
these bills the court only needs to give "some deference" to the
decisions of fit parents.

On the surface these bills appear to protect parents' rights. However,
a grandparent is only required to demonstrate that he or she had a
"significant relationship" with the child that was allowed to be
formed and established by the parent, that the parent substantially
interfered with the grandparent's relationship, and the child would
likely suffer harm or substantial risk of harm if contact between the
grandparent is not awarded. Once a grandparent demonstrates this, the
burden shifts to the parent to "prove why their decision to deny
visitation is reasonable and in the best interest of the child." This
places the court in the position of deciding whether the parent was
justified in limiting contact with the grandparents.

If you are not yet a member of HSLDA and would like to help us fight
for greater homeschool freedom in Washington please visit
http://www.hslda.org/join/apply.asp . From now until March 18 you can
save an additional $15 to $30 if you join or renew online.

If you would like to be put on our free email list to receive vital
e-lerts you may sign up at
https://secure.hslda.org/hslda/elert/account.asp?Process=Subscribe .

Thank you for your part in fighting for freedom in Washington.

Sincerely,

Thomas Schmidt
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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