Feb. 23, 2007
On Wenesday, FRC filed a "friend-of-the-court" brief with our friends at the Alliance Defense Fund in the U.S. Supreme Court case Fausey v. Hiller. We are arguing that the Court should review the case, which would determine if parents can control "third-party visitation rights." These cases pit a third party (often a grandparent) against a parent in determining whether visits with the parent's children will be permitted, and on what terms.
Some states have sought to use a standard ("best interests of the child") that was developed for mother-and-father disputes and to expand that standard to other relatives and parties. In today's world these disputes can enmesh families where the grandparents are in fact loving in their intentions.
While recognizing this, FRC maintains that before the state intervenes in a decision made by what the law deems "a fit parent," the only reasonable standard is to put the burden on the third party to show that the child would suffer harm if such visits were denied. Only such a standard can preserve the fundamental right of parents to supervise the upbringing of their children, a right long ago recognized by the Supreme Court as fundamental under the U.S. Constitution. Churches, counselors and other resources can and should employed to help families achieve reconciliation and enjoy the important cross-generational ties that strong families experience.