Grandparents’ Rights Circa 2017

Thanks you to those of you who have been following and working against this year’s version of the Grandparents’ Rights bill HB0289. (If you look at the bill, be sure to read the text of the second substitute as that is the bill curently under consideration.)

URGENT as I was composing this, the bill sponsor managed to get the bill on the 3rd reading calendar for the House Floor. That is unheard of! We need to mobilize and before Monday if we want to get to our representatives before they likely vote on it on Monday!

This morning it passed the House Judicial Committee. Before becoming law, it will need to pass on the house floor, a senate committee hearing, and on the senate floor. So there is still a great deal we can do!

I thought it would be helpful to give you the nitty gritty of what the bill does. You are under no obligation to oppose the bill like we do but we think it is a very bad bill and sets a terrible precedent for adoptive families.

Like last year, the scope of the bill is limited to cases where parental rights have been terminated and a relative has adopted the child, “relative” is limited to an aunt, uncle, or grandparent. 

This year the bill says that for those cases, for adoptions that are finalized after October 1, 2017, grandparents can file a petition for visitation one time but it must be before the adoption is finalized. 

ALL adoptions finalized BEFORE October 1, 2017 (again under those relative and termination guidelines) are also subject to one petition for visitation from biological grandparents. 

Here are the problems I have with that (feel free to use any of this when you call or write your legislators):

  • Adoptions that are finalized should be FINAL and not open to any kind of petition after the fact. Families need to know what they are getting into prior to finalization, not years down the line.
  • Petitions after October have to be resolved before adoption is completed which means adoptions will be delayed because of these petitions.
  • Biological family members who adopt a child are the BEST judges of who can safely be in a child’s life. 
  • Parents shouldn’t have different rights because they are related or because they adopted their child.
  • Adoptive parents should not be subject to the legal costs associated with fighting these petitions.
  • Grandparents are often more financially able to incur legal fees where young parents may not be.
  • There is Utah Supreme Court precedent that rules this bill unconstitutional. Utah Supreme Court Harbinger v. Scott, 2004 paragraph 17.

Please find out who your representatives are and call or email them immediately if you have concerns about this bill!

At le.utah.gov, you can look up who your representatives are and their emails and phone numbers. Focus on your representative in the House of Representatives for now but get ready to call your senator if this passes on Monday!

There is one more option of how to impact the bill and it is to go

To the state capitol and send a note in to the house floor requesting your representative come out and speak to you. Then you can talk to them in person about the bill and your concerns. If you want to do that, let me know and I can walk you through the process.

Every voice matters! Last year, we got the bill vetoed. Let’s not let it get that far this year!

If you have any questions, please call, text, or email me at 801 573-7248 or laurieannthorpe@hotmail.com.

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One thought on “Grandparents’ Rights Circa 2017

  1. […] In summary, if this bill would have passed, it would have made it possible for the biological grandparents of children who have been adopted by a relative [after parental rights had been terminated] to file a petition for visitation rights.   Some of the concerns foster parents shared regarding this bill were expressed in the previous post. […]

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