Advocate: Bill expanding grandparents' rights is worthwhile

BY JIM KILLACKEY Published: March 9, 2013
Advertisement
;

Under HB 1520, a judge can order visitation if it's in the best interest of the child and there is a showing of poor parental fitness, or if the child could suffer harm without the grandparents being granted visitation. Grandparents must have a pre-existing relationship with the grandchild as well. HB 1520 includes great-grandparents. Wood says mediation can clean up an ugly situation and find a peaceful solution without taking rights away from parents and dragging children though court proceedings.

There is safeguard in the bill: “Under no circumstances shall any judge grant the right of visitation to any grandparent if the child is a member of an intact nuclear family, and both parents of the child object to granting visitation.”

On the whole, HB 1520 is a benefit to all parties and to the state. Anything that has a positive impact on children makes it more likely that they will be productive adults. HB 1520 helps children and grandparents because those grandparents are our connection to the past, and often the key to what shapes our future. Grandparents set the values and standards by which families live, and it's through traditions that are passed along through generations by grandparents that families remain strong and together.

Killackey is a member of the Oklahoma Council on Aging.