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April 27, 2007

Grandparent Visitation Bill Defeated—For Now

For the past several years “grandparent visitation” bills have been introduced in the Washington Legislature. This year House Bill 1108 and Senate Bill 5071 were introduced.

These bills would have enabled grandparents to petition a court to order visitation of their grandchildren against the wishes of the parents. If the bills had passed, a court could have granted visitation rights even when both parents were together and there was no determination of the parents being unfit.

Over the years, Home School Legal Defense Association has represented several families where the grandparents did not like homeschooling. These grandparents would try to stop the homeschooling any way they could, including turning the family over to social services. Thankfully, most of the grandparents we know are very supportive of homeschooling. Some even participate in the home education program.

Washington’s previous grandparent visitation statues have been ruled to be unconstitutional by U.S. Supreme Court in Troxel v. Granville. Troxel is the most recent landmark parental rights cases from the Supreme Court. This decision held the prior statute “unconstitutionally interferes with the fundamental right of parents to rear their children.”

Many homeschool families responded to HSLDA’s e-lerts on these bills and contacted the Washington legislature. Due to these calls, the bills failed to move out of committee and are dead for this year.

HSLDA is opposed to any grandparent visitation bill that would enable a court to grant visitation against the wishes of fit parent. Any legislation dealing with this issue should presume that a fit parent makes decisions in the best interest of their children.

 Other Resources

A Review of Troxel v. Granville: U.S. Supreme Court: Parents’ Rights Are Fundamental.

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