Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Grandmother fights for custody of grandson

It is commonly said that families are the cornerstone of America. Through families people learn their values, morals and hopefully experience unconditional love. There are many situations which can lead to a child being adopted by another family. Many factors determine where a child will end up, but the overall policy which governs the treatment of children is what is in their best interest. In making a "best interest" determination, courts have the potential of separating children from healthy, loving family members.

In 2011, a grandmother lost her grandson to an adoption. The child was removed from her daughter's home in 2010 over concerns that the child was being neglected by the young mother. The woman began seeking custody in 2011. After a failed attempt to reunite the child with his mother the boy was placed in a foster home. The woman filed for custody, visitation or to adopt the child as she had previously helped raise other children. After being banned from some court hearings the grandmother's visitation rights were revoked and the child was adopted out to another family. Utah's Supreme Court weighed in on the issue, sending the case back to juvenile court.

In this case Utah's Supreme Court ruled that the grandmother was never given a chance to be fairly heard in court. The court determined that the juvenile court, which acts as the adoption court, erred when it allowed the child to be adopted by foster parents without fairly weighing the competing adoption request. In sending the case back the juvenile court will have to hear arguments regarding which placement is in the child's best interest.

Adoption can be the best outcome for many children. For others, adoption can cause more problems than they started out with.

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune, "Utah County woman gets chance to fight for custody of grandson," Jim Dalrymple II, May 9, 2013

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