This week's Michigan Lawyer's Weekly issue covered the recent Speaker Law Firm published victory in Geering v Geering.
Jennifer M. Alberts, plaintiffs attorney in the Geering case, said, "Grandparents do not have rights to visitation, so parents' rights will always be favored over the interests of the grandparents. The only concern that may outweigh the parents' rights is the well-being of the child, but it is presumed that parents act in their child's best interests.Thus, it is a high bar for grandparents to meet."
"These cases largely reaffirmed what has been the law for years and what is clearly laid out in the statute.- Alberts, of Speaker Law Firm PLLC, said the "main takeaway from Geering is the definition of parental fitness: the Court defined a fit parent as one who 'adequately cares for his or her children.'"
"This is important as the protections the statute affords to parents are specifically afforded to 'fit parents,'" she said. Whether there is a high bar depends on the circumstances, Alberts said.
"If two fit parents deny grandparenting time, then under the statute, the case ends. That is all there is to it. If only one fit parent denies grandpa renting time, then the grandparent has to prove that the denial creates a substantial risk of harm to the child. The parent or parents who deny grandparenting time are unfit only if they do not 'adequately care for' their children. It is a high bar," she said.
"If the parents disagreed, then the grandparents would have had to prove that the denial of grandparenting time created substantial risk of hann to the child, rather than having to prove that the parents were unfit," Alberts said.
"It is still a high bar because there is still a presumption that the parent who is denying grandparenting time is acting in the best interests of the children, but it is a rebuttal presumption, rather than the irrebuttable presumption created by filing a joint affidavit."
Read our previous blog about Geering v Robinson HERE.