Document Type

Article

Publication Title

University of Memphis Law Review

Publication Date

2002

Abstract

This Article addresses the ways in which the law primarily state law-has significantly redefined the American family in its response to third-party claims against parents for visitation rights with the children of those parents. Part II briefly addresses statutory and case law relating to visitation by grandparents, the most favored group of petitioners for visitation rights, and stepparents who have not fared nearly as well. After placing third-party visitation in its constitutional context, Part II also examines how the courts have treated "coparent" claims of a right to visitation, brought by former companions of natural parents who insist that they are de facto parents, parents by estoppel, psychological parents, and the like. It describes and analyzes the evolving law in this area from the earliest decisions when such coparent claims were routinely rejected, to the most recent cases, several of which have recognized such claims without any readily apparent statutory authority.

Part III, summarizes the several opinions in Troxel v. Granville, the first third-party visitation case (in this instance concerning grandparents) that the United States Supreme Court has decided. Finally, Part III also reviews some state court decisions subsequent to Troxel, and assesses whether the Supreme Court's decision has had or is likely to have any significant impact on state law in the areas of grandparent or other third-party visitation rights.

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