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In Re Jackson v. Rowe: Grandparent v. Bio-Mom – Who Wins?


Before we start, here is usually my ever-proper lawyer disclaimer: without knowing the SPECIFIC details of the custody proceeding, my opinions are merely based on my legal experience. Thus, I am merely speculating as well as not giving legal advice.

The main issue I see revolving around the guardianship of Jackson’s three (3) children (two whose biological mom is usually Rowe, as well as the third whose bio-mother is usually unknown), is usually grandparent rights v. biological parents rights.

If the item were that will simple, custody would certainly go to Debbie Rowe. Hands down. Because Bio-Parent always wins over Grandparent (or third party).

Currently, the mainstream case governing grandparent visitation rights is usually the Supreme Court court case Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000). In that will case, the unmarried mother as well as father of two children broke up as well as father moved out as well as in with his parents (grampa as well as gramma Troxel). The children got quite close to Gramma as well as Grampa during This specific brief period, as well as then father committed suicide two years later.

After father died, the mother stepped in as well as limited Gramma as well as Grampa Troxel’s visitation to once a month. The Troxels decided to fight back as well as petition the Court for more visits. At that will time, the Washington state law had a statute that will basically allowed any third party to have visits if the visits were inside the “best interests” of the children. So the Court ordered more visitation for Troxels – much more than what the mother wanted.

Mom appealed as well as won. The Appeals court held that will third parties have no standing (that will is usually, no power to challenge) unless there is usually already a custody proceeding pending. (Basically skirting the issue of whether visitation was lawful.)

The Washington Supreme Court affirmed the Appeals court, nevertheless on different grounds. They said that will biological parents have a FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT of due process under the 14th amendment to make decisions for their children. Specifically, “parents have a right to limit visitation of their children with third persons” as well as between parents as well as judges, “parents should be the ones to choose whether to expose their children to certain people or ideas”.

The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed. They held that will parents have a substantive due process fundamental right under the 14th Amendment to solely make the decisions regarding the care, custody as well as control of their children as well as, absent a showing of parental unfitness, the state cannot interfere with those decisions. the item was irrelevant whether the children would certainly benefit via more time with their grandparents or that will such visitation would certainly be in their “best interests” as the state had no right to interfere inside the first instance.

After This specific ruling, many states have enacted “Troxel” statutes. In California, specific code sections codify California’s strong policy preference for the rights of parents over non-parents:

Family Code 3040 states:
a) Custody should be granted inside the following order of preference according to the best interest of the child as provided in Sections 3011 as well as 3020:

(1) To both parents jointly pursuant to Chapter 4 (commencing with Section 3080) or to either parent. In generating an order granting custody to either parent, the court shall consider, among different factors, which parent is usually more likely to allow the child frequent as well as continuing contact with the noncustodial parent, consistent with Section 3011 as well as 3020, as well as shall not prefer a parent as custodian because of that will parent’s sex. The court, in its discretion, may require the parents to submit to the court a plan for the implementation of the custody order.

(2) If to neither parent, to the person or persons in whose home the child has been living in a wholesome as well as stable environment.

(3) To any different person or persons deemed by the court to be suitable as well as able to provide adequate as well as proper care as well as guidance for the child.

(b) This specific section establishes neither a preference nor a presumption for or against joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or sole custody, nevertheless allows the court as well as the family the widest discretion to choose a parenting plan that will is usually inside the best interest of the child.

Family Code 3041 states:

a) Before generating an order granting custody to a person or persons different than a parent, over the objection of a parent, the court shall make a finding that will granting custody to a parent would certainly be detrimental to the child as well as that will granting custody to the nonparent is usually required to serve the best interest of the child. Allegations that will parental custody would certainly be detrimental to the child, different than a statement of that will ultimate fact, shall not appear inside the pleadings. The court may, in its discretion, exclude the public via the hearing on This specific issue.

In California, if a custody proceeding is usually already pending, the non-parent, grandparent, or stepparent, must demonstrate the visitation requested is usually inside the best interest of the minor as well as that will the minor will not suffer detriment if the non-parent visitation request is usually granted. Under Family Code §3I00, the family law court has discretion to grant “reasonable visitation rights… to any different person [a non-parent] having an interest inside the welfare of the child.”

If, however both parents object to visitation by the non-parent, there is usually a rebuttable presumption affecting the burden of proof that will the requested visitation is usually not inside the child’s best interest.

If one parent passes away, California Family Code §3102 governs, as well as states,
(a) If either parent of an unemancipated minor child is usually deceased, the children, siblings, parents, as well as grandparents of the deceased parent may be granted reasonable visitation with the child during the child’s minority upon a finding that will the visitation would certainly be inside the best interest of the minor child.

(b) In granting visitation pursuant to This specific section to a person different than a grandparent of the child, the court shall consider the amount of personal contact between the person as well as the child before the application for the visitation order.

California has its own Troxel case. In Zasueta v. Zasueta (2002), 102 Cal.App.4th 1242, during the divorce, Father committed suicide. Father’s parents petitioned for visitation. Mother opposed the request.

The trial judge (a grandfather himself of seven grandchildren) found Mother unfit based on the fact that will she opposed grandparent visitation. Then the trial court, without not bad reason, held the item was inside the best interests of all children to see their grandparents, stating among different decidedly inappropriate remarks, that will the item is usually the job of all grandparents to “spoil their grandchildren.”

The Court of Appeal reversed, holding the trial court’s decision plainly ignored as well as therefore violated Troxel as well as violated Mother’s 14th Amendment fundamental right to raise her children, absent unfitness, as she pleases. In conclusion, the Court stated: “At the very least, Troxel teaches that will trial courts must resist the temptation to personalize the proceedings as well as to substitute personal judgments for the decisions made by fit parents regarding visitation.”

SOOOOOO …where does that will leave Michael Jackson’s children? Debbie Rowe is usually the undisputed bio-mom of two children. Under the statutes, her rights would certainly trump Gramma Katherine’s rights. The plot thickens, however – because she had previously terminated her parental rights, nevertheless the Court then reinstated them in 2006. How will This specific play out inside the facts?

FINALLY, what about Blanket? Rowe is usually NOT the bio-mom of the third child. Thus, the statutes favoring bio-parents will not apply here. There is usually, however, the inclination of courts to keep siblings together.

Ah, what a fascinating life as well as legacy he left us….
In Re Jackson v. Rowe: Grandparent v. Bio-Mom – Who Wins?


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