Monday, December 2, 2013

Bill Would Erect High Hurdles to Grandparents Seeking Visitation

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: NJ bill to erect high hurdles for grandparent visitation
Date: Mon, 02 Dec 2013 11:14:31 -0500
From: beden <>

"The constitutional [issue]...weighs heavy on every judge's mind," attorney Corcoran adds.

Since when did the constitution interfere with any judge's ruling. I've heard judges in NJ family courts say the constitution doesn't apply in my courtroom, or don't talk about the constitution in this case.

Assembywomen Loretta Weinberg is the anti-Second Amendment, anti-Constitutional Democrat Socialist politician.  She says:  "We worked with family lawyers on evolving the wording of the bill," Weinberg says. "It's always difficult to balance...everybody's rights[.]"   Therein, lies the problem. This bill is by the lawyers, for the lawyers and of the lawyers. 

The grandparents will have to pay for an expert witness--further feeding the mental health prostitutes (read the book:  "Whores of the Court" about the mental health industry in the family courts) and hangers-on in the FAMILY COURT INDUSTRY.

Bill Would Erect High Hurdles to Grandparents Seeking Visitation

By David Gialanella All Articles

New Jersey Law Journal
November 27, 2013

Loretta Weinberg

Loretta Weinberg

Legislation that would toughen New Jersey's statutory standards for granting visitation rights to grandparents, and siblings, over parental objections is drawing closer to final passage.

The legislation ­approved Monday by the Assembly Judiciary Committee ­would codify a decade-old state Supreme Court holding that applicants may be granted visitation if they prove denial would harm the child.

That's a higher standard than the state Grandparent Visitation Act, which provides for a visitation order upon a showing it's in the child's best interests.

"Codifying these standards and giving the courts a set of guidelines is probably a good thing," says Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, the primary sponsor. "I don't envy judges having to decide these kinds of cases."

The measure, A-2945/S-789, would require an applicant to prove by expert testimony that denial of visitation would result in harm to the child.

Once that considerable hurdle is cleared, the judge would order visitation based on an agreed-to schedule or, if such an agreement can't be made, on a basis that accounts for the child's best interests.

The judge, in determining the best interests, would consider the applicant's relationship with the child, and the parent or guardian; the time elapsed since the child's last visit with the applicant; any existing visitation schedule if the parents or guardians are divorced; the applicant's good faith; and other factors.

The Senate approved it 38-1 on June 20.

With Monday's Assembly committee approval, a floor vote is likely before the end of the legislative session, Weinberg adds.

The committee vote was unanimous, though one lawmaker, Michael Patrick Carroll, R-Morris, voted in favor "reluctantly" and said he has pushed for legislation that would eliminate grandparent visitation altogether.

 "If you have children, you get to determine where they will go to school...who they will get to see," Carroll said. "That's one of the benefits of being a parent. ...I don't think a judge ought to be in the position of second-guessing a parental determination."

A prior version of the legislation­S-2975/A-4410, introduced in 2011 but never brought to a committee vote­ would have allowed visitation applicants to make out a prima facie case of potential of harm to the child­ by showing, for example, that the parents are divorced or the applicant was once the child's primary caregiver.

The current legislation, too, included those applicant-favoring provisions, but it was modified based on concerns about parental rights.

"We worked with family lawyers on evolving the wording of the bill," Weinberg says. "It's always difficult to balance...everybody's rights[.]"

In Moriarty v. Bradt, 177 N.J. 84 (2003), the state Supreme Court sought to help New Jersey's visitation statute survive scrutiny in the wake of Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000), wherein the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Washington state's visitation statute as overbroad and held parental autonomy "to make decisions concerning the care, custody and control of their children" was protected under the 14th Amendment's due process clause.

Justice Virginia Long noted in Moriarty that Troxel "stopped short of invalidating nonparental visitation statutes per se and declined to define the precise scope of the parental due process right in the visitation context."

The Moriarty court thus replaced the best-interests standard with the more stringent potential-for-harm standard.

Notwithstanding the higher burden, the court found that the plaintiffs­ two maternal grandparents who sought visitation with the children of their former son-in-law, who objected­ met the standard by a preponderance of the evidence.

Justice Peter Verniero dissented in part, saying applicants should be held to a higher evidentiary standard, clear and convincing evidence.

A petition for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied in 2004.

Hackensack lawyer Robert Corcoran, who represented the losing parent in Moriarty, says: "I think that's prudent, to provide some guidelines."

Still, the potential-for-harm hurdle is a difficult one to clear, and it's a "very difficult thing for a legitimate health professional to opine that" a denial of visitation will do the child harm, he says.

"The constitutional [issue]...weighs heavy on every judge's mind," Corcoran adds. •

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