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2/7/2007 5:23:06 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Washington--Bills Allow Court to Order Grandparent Visitation

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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February 7, 2007

Washington--Bills Allow Court to Order Grandparent Visitation

Dear HSLDA members and friends:

One of the bills that would permit grandparents to request
court-ordered visitation against the wishes of parents is scheduled
for a public hearing tomorrow. Senate Bill 5071 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 limit their contact with their grandparents.

This bill 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, this bill would only require the court to
give "deference" to the decisions of fit parents while examining
whether their decision was reasonable.

The hearing is scheduled for Senate Bill 5071 in the Senate Committee
on Human Services & Corrections tomorrow, February 8.

Some of you may remember that similar bills were introduced last year,
but with your calls they were defeated. We need your calls once again.
Please contact the legislators listed below and urge them to defeat
this bill.

ACTION REQUESTED:

1) Please call and/or email the Senate Committee on Human Services &
Corrections members listed below and give them this message in your
own words:

"Please oppose Senate Bill 5071. 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.

Additionally, this bill will allow courts to determine visitation in
an intact family, jeopardizing family integrity. Please ensure that
House Bill 1108 is defeated."

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

Human Services & Corrections Committee
Telephone: (360) 786-7414
Toll-Free Legislative Hotline: 1-800-562-6000

Senate Committee on Human Services & Corrections Members

Senator James Hargrove- Chairman
Phone: (360) 786-7646
Email: hargrove.jim@leg.wa.gov

Senator Debbie Regala- Vice Chairman
Phone: (360) 786-7652
Email: regala.debbie@leg.wa.gov

Senator Val Stevens
Phone: (360) 786-7676
Email: stevens.val@leg.wa.gov

Senator Dale Brandland
Phone: (360) 786-7682
Email: brandland.dale@leg.wa.gov

Senator Mike Carrell
Phone: (360) 786-7654
Email: carrell.michael@leg.wa.gov

Senator Chris Marr
Phone: (360) 786-7610
Email: marr.chris@leg.wa.gov

Senator Rosemary McAuliffe
Phone: (360) 786-7600
Email: mcauliffe.rosemary@leg.wa.gov

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. 1108 and S.B. 5071 would give grandparents the right to
sue parents for visitation. If this bill becomes law, they could
petition the court for visitation rights when both parents are
together and not only when 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 "deference" to the decisions
of fit parents all the while deciding whether the parents' decision to
limit contact with the grandparents is "reasonable."

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 . Join or renew for two years and
you get the Drive Thru History- America DVD and curriculum free, a $50
value.

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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-> How many news articles did you read this morning over your
oatmeal?

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right time can make a big difference in the outcome of important
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take quick, decisive action. Please consider becoming a part of
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