On June 5, 2000, the United States Supreme Court handed down a seminal ruling as regards the complex issue of grandparents rights. In the case of Troxel v. Granville, the court struck down a Washington state law that allowed any third party (i.e. grandparents, etc.) to petition state courts for child visitation rights over parental objections. The Court held that "the interest of parents in the care, custody and control of their children-is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court." That fundamental right is implicated in grandparent visitation cases, and as such, it struck down the Washington visitation statute because it unconstitutionally infringed on the right.
Some 40% of babies born in the United States are born to unwed mothers vs. about 10% in 1970, according to a UN report. Almost 60% are living with their baby's father. Like married couples, many of these relationships fail, leaving the challenge of determining custody, particularly for fathers. Our firm has handled a growing number of such cases.