Grandparent Visitation Again in the SD Supreme Court - KOTA Territory News

Grandparent Visitation Again in the SD Supreme Court



Gary Jensen
Beardsley, Jensen and Von Wald

The South Dakota Supreme Court again reaffirmed the rigorous standard grandparents must meet to have visitation with their grandchildren over the objection of a parent.  That rigorous standard requires the grandparents to present pertinent evidence – not just argument - if they want to win.

Our court again stated that it's presumed to be in the best interest of a child to be in the care, custody, and control of the child's parent, and the parent is afforded constitutional protections as determined by the United States Supreme Court and the South Dakota Supreme Court.  Rebutting those presumptions requires a showing of "parental unfitness or other extraordinary circumstances."  South Dakota statutes set out some of those circumstances.  

The maternal grandparents did not present any evidence rebutting the father's right to control visitation.  They did not claim the father was unfit.  They just argued that the father's restriction of not allowing the grandchildren to visit on the grandparents' ranch in Montana (because of his concern about being around heavy equipment and being left alone from time to time) would "impact the twins."

Given the grandparents' lack of evidence, the Court determined that this was not one of the "limited circumstances" when a state should intervene in a fit parent's decision.  The grandparents lost.  Not only did they lose, they had to pay the father's attorneys fees in the amount of $7,815.

If this subject is relevant in your life, you must read Beach v. Coisman, 2012 SD 31.

E-mail Gary is intended as general information on legal issues affecting us all.  This information should not be relied upon in any particular case and should never be used in lieu of consulting with an attorney.

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