Originally Sent: 3/12/2014
|From the HSLDA e-lert service|
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Calls Needed to Stop
Senior Counsel Dee Black answers questions and assists members with legal issues. He and his wife homeschooled their children.
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Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:
Your calls and emails are needed to stop Alabama House Bill 289, which would violate the constitutional right of parents to determine in what instances grandparents may visit with the parents’ children. Among other things, this bill provides that if a parent dies, the grandparents may be granted visitation if the court determines that it is in the child’s best interest, despite the objections of the surviving parent.
Historically, the “best interest of the child” standard has been applied in family matters only when there is a finding by the court of abuse or neglect of the children or in a divorce situation when the court must decide custody and visitation. In other instances, the courts have recognized the right of responsible parents to make their own decisions regarding the upbringing of their children, including the extent to which grandparents are permitted access to the children. This bill would put judges in the place of making decisions that parents should be making. For example, if the father of an intact family died, the mother would no longer have the right to decide whether her husband’s parents would have access to her children. If she considered that her children were unsafe with the grandparents or that the grandparents were a bad influence on the children and denied visitation because of this, the grandparents would have the right to petition the court and let the judge make the decision. Not only that, the judge could require the parent to pay the expenses of the grandparents in the case, including attorney’s fees, court costs, and travel expenses.
Unfortunately, this bill passed the House of Representatives on March 5, 2014, by a vote of 98 to 1. It is now in the Senate Judiciary Committee where a vote could come any day. This bill has a lot of momentum and will be hard to stop, but your calls can make the difference. Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee need to be reminded that responsible parents should retain the right to make decisions about the upbringing of their children. Place contact members of this committee today before this bill goes any further.
1. Please call and/or email as many members of the Senate Judiciary Committee as possible with this message or something similar in your own words:
“Please vote against House Bill 289, a grandparent visitation bill which would take away the right of responsible parents to decide in what instances grandparents may visit with the parents’ children. The courts should intervene in such family matters only when the parents are unfit or in divorce cases when custody and visitation must be decided.”
When contacting members of the Committee, there is no need to identify yourself as a homeschooler. This is a parental rights issue that potentially affects all Alabama families.
The members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are as follows:
Senator Cam Ward, Chairperson
Senator Jerry Fielding, Vice Chairperson
Senator Linda Coleman
Senator Vivian Davis Figures
Senator Marc Keahey
Senator Arthur Orr
Senator Rodger Mell Smitherman
Senator Bryan Taylor
Senator Tom Whatley
Senator Phil Williams
Senator Greg Reed, President Pro Tempore Designee
2. Please forward this email to every family you know who is not a member of HSLDA and urge them to contact members of the committee.
Please call or email today!
Dewitt T. Black, III
HSLDA Senior Counsel
P.S. We greatly value you and your support—it is a privilege to serve you! If you or someone you know is not a member of HSLDA, will you consider taking a moment today to join or recommend us? Your support enables us to defend individual families threatened by government officials and protect homeschooling freedom for all. Join now >>
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