Grandparent Visitation & Millennials

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Grandparent Rights on Monday, June 6, 2016.

For the first time in modern history, young adults are more likely to live with a parent than a romantic partner. What does this mean for grandparent rights to timesharing and visitation?

The New York Times recently reported that millennials, who have been slower than previous generations to marry and set up their own households, reached that milestone in 2014.

32.1% lived in a parent’s home, compared with 31.6% who lived with a spouse or a partner.

The median ages for marrying are 27 and 29, and one in five adults older than 25 has never married. Pew projects that a quarter of this generation of young adults might never marry.

About 22% of young adults now live in a dormitory, or with a relative like a grandparent or a sibling – compared with 13% in 1960.

About 14% of young adults head their own households, some living with roommates or boarders, others alone or with their young children.

The issue of grandparent visitation rights comes up many times in Florida. As this recent Pew study shows, grandparents are increasingly playing a significant role in the lives of their grandchildren.

I wrote an article in the Florida Bar Journal about grandparent visitation rights, and the attempts by Florida law makers to serve this big part of our population.

Two Florida statutory grounds for awarding grandparent visitation have been ruled unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court. Confusingly, these two provisions remain in the statute.

The laws were held unconstitutional because compelling visitation with a grandparent based solely on the best interest of the child, without the showing harm to the child violates parents’ privacy.

Fifteen years ago, in Troxel v. Granville, grandparents asked to expand their visitation rights. The children’s mother had reduced the grandparents’ visitation to one afternoon a month.

The U.S. Supreme Court reasoned that the Due Process Clause protects the fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children.

So, as long as a parent is adequately caring for his or her child, there will normally be no reason for the state to inject itself into the private realm of the family. The basic presumption in Troxel is that fit parents act in the best interests of their children.

However, the Troxel court did not hold that the Due Process Clause requires a showing of harm or potential harm to the child as a condition to granting visitation. That is a Florida law.

Instead, the U.S. Supreme Court left those decisions for the states to decide on a case-by-case basis.

The New York Times article is here.