[r63] Rep. Messmer: Grandparents' Rights Bill Still Alive- And Moving Back to Senate

Posted by: Zach Weismiller  | Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A bill co-sponsored by Rep. Mark Messmer (R-Jasper) will allow grandparents to petition the court for visitation rights, if approved by the Senate author, the full Senate and Governor Daniels.

Senate Bill (SB) 59 would improve visitation rights for grandparents and great-grandparents in cases of estrangement. The bill would become effective immediately upon passage.

"Earlier in the session, I introduced this same language as a House bill," said Rep. Messmer. "After that bill died, I was thrilled to see that the language survived in a different bill. I am pleased to support SB59 and hope that the Conference Committee will work out any remaining minor details swiftly."

Currently, a grandparent may petition the court for visitation under the following conditions: if the child's parent is deceased, the marriage of the child's parents has been dissolved in Indiana or if the child was born out of wedlock. However, they may not petition the court for visitation if the child's parents are still married, which would be allowed if SB59 is enacted into law.

In a committee hearing, some legislators raised concerns that the bill would allow grandparents to insert themselves into intact families to the detriment of the child.

"Kentucky and Mississippi already give grandparents a chance to petition the court in the case of estrangement," said Rep. Messmer. "Judges will know if a grandparent does not have a child's best interests at heart when petitioning for visitation, and parents will also have the opportunity to make their case. We trust the courts to do their job in such situations."

Track the progress of SB59 as it continues to move through the legislative process at www.in.gov/legislative. To reach Rep. Messmer's Statehouse office, please call 1-800-382-9841 or send an email to h63@in.gov.