House Bill 983 & Senate Bill 422: Grandparent Visitation

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Last Updated: March 22, 2017
House Bill 983 & Senate Bill 422: Grandparent Visitation
House Senate
Sponsors:
Representative Souki
Sponsors:
Senators Keith-Agaran, Skimabukuro, Dela Cruz, English, K. Kahele
Summary:

House Bill 983 represents a paradigm shift in Hawaii’s grandparent visitation policy. Under the current statute, “Reasonable visitation rights” are deemed, automatically, to be “in the best interests of the child.” HB 163 changes the statute to allow grandparents to seek visitation rights only when the denial of visitation “would cause significant demonstrable harm to the child.”

HB 983 also creates “a rebuttable presumption that the parent’s decision regarding visitation is in the best interests of the child. The presumption may be rebutted by a preponderance of the evidence that denial of reasonable visitation rights would cause significant harm to the child.”

Summary:

Senate Bill 422 represents a paradigm shift in Hawaii’s grandparent visitation policy. Under the current statute, “Reasonable visitation rights” are deemed, automatically, to be “in the best interests of the child.” SB 422 changes the statute to allow grandparents to seek visitation rights only when the denial of visitation “would cause significant demonstrable harm to the child.”

SB 422 also creates “a rebuttable presumption that the parent’s decision regarding visitation is in the best interests of the child. The presumption may be rebutted by a preponderance of the evidence that denial of reasonable visitation rights would cause significant harm to the child.”

Status:
01/23/2017 House Introduced
01/25/2017 House Passed First Reading
01/27/2017 House Referred to Committees on Human Services and Judiciary
01/31/2017 House Bill scheduled to be heard by Human Services Committee February 3, 2017 at 9:00am in House Conference Room 329
02/03/2017 House Human Services Committee recommend the measure be passed with amendments
02/07/2017 House Human Services Committee passes with amendment; Passed Second Reading; Referred to Judiciary Committee
3/9/2017 House Failed First Crossover Deadline

 

Status:
01/20/2017 Senate Introduced
01/23/2017 Senate Passed First Reading; Referred to Judiciary and Labor Committee
01/26/2017 Senate Bill scheduled to be heard by Judiciary and Labor Committee February 1, 2017 at 9:00am in Conference Room 016
01/27/2017 Senate Re-Referred to Judiciary and Labor & Ways and Means Committees
02/01/2017 Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee recommends that the measure be passed, with amendments
02/13/2017 Senate Reported from Judiciary and Labor Committee; Passed Second Reading; Referred to Ways and Means Committee
02/24/2017 Senate Ways and Means Committee will hold a public decision making on February 27, 2017 at 9:35am in conference room 211
02/27/2017 Senate Ways and Means Committee recommends that the measure be passed, unamended
03/02/2017 Senate Reported from Ways and Means Committee
03/03/2017 Senate Passed Third Reading; Transmitted to House
03/07/2017 House Passed First Reading; Referred to Committee on Human Services
03/14/2017 House Bill scheduled to be heard by Human Services Committee on March 1 7, 2017 at 9:30am in House conference room 329
03/17/2017 House Human Services Committee recommends the measure be passed, with amendments
03/22/2017 House Reported from Human Services Committee; Passed Second Reading as amended; Referred to Judiciary Committee

 

HSLDA's Position:
Support.

House Bill 983 is a positive development in Hawaii’s approach to grandparent visitation. In Troxel v. Granville, a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the assertion that grandparent visitation should be automatically favored, particularly when parents are opposed. HB 983 moves away from this pre-Troxel philosophy, by requiring proof that a lack of visitation would result in “significant demonstrable harm” to the child. In Doe v. Doe, 116 Haw. 323, 336 (2007), the Hawaii Supreme Court struck down Hawaii’s grandparent visitation statute as unconstitutional. The court concluded (based on Troxel) that the U.S. Constitution requires proof that a “child will suffer significant harm,” before a court can override a parent’s decision regarding grandparent visitation. HB 983 brings Hawaii’s grandparent visitation statute with both Doe and the U.S. Constitution. Family courts will now be required to use the “significant harm” standard, instead of the “best interests of the child” test, when parents and grandparents disagree on whether visitation is appropriate. In addition, HB 983 explicitly recognizes (the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently done) that “the law’s concept of the family rests on a presumption that parents possess what a child lacks in maturity, experience, and capacity for judgment required for making life’s difficult decisions.” Parham v. J.R., 442 U.S. 584, 602 (1979). Parents, and not the state, should be presumed to make the best decisions for children, unless the child is at risk of significant harm.

HSLDA's Position:
Support. Senate Bill 422 is a positive development in Hawaii’s approach to grandparent visitation. In Troxel v. Granville, a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the assertion that grandparent visitation should be automatically favored, particularly when parents are opposed. SB 442 moves away from this pre-Troxel philosophy, by requiring proof that a lack of visitation would result in “significant demonstrable harm” to the child. In Doe v. Doe, 116 Haw. 323, 336 (2007), the Hawaii Supreme Court struck down Hawaii’s grandparent visitation statute as unconstitutional. The court concluded (based on Troxel) that the U.S. Constitution requires proof that a “child will suffer significant harm,” before a court can override a parent’s decision regarding grandparent visitation. SB 422 brings Hawaii’s grandparent visitation statute with both Doe and the U.S. Constitution. Family courts will now be required to use the “significant harm” standard, instead of the “best interests of the child” test, when parents and grandparents disagree on whether visitation is appropriate. In addition, SB 422 explicitly recognizes (the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently done) that “the law’s concept of the family rests on a presumption that parents possess what a child lacks in maturity, experience, and capacity for judgment required for making life’s difficult decisions.” Parham v. J.R., 442 U.S. 584, 602 (1979). Parents, and not the state, should be presumed to make the best decisions for children, unless the child is at risk of significant harm.

Action Requested:
None at this time
Action Requested:
None at this time

 Other Resources

House Bill Text

House Bill History

 Other Resources

Senate Bill Text

Senate Bill History