Senate Bill No. 127
(By Senators Minear, Hunter, Boley, Anderson, Scott, Kimble,
Dugan, Sharpe, Ross, Ball, White, Deem and Sprouse)
[Introduced January 14, 1998; referred to the Committee
on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend and reenact section one, article two-b, chapter
forty-eight of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine
hundred thirty-one, as amended; and to further amend said
article by adding thereto a new section, designated section
ten, all relating to creating a presumption that grandparent
visitation is in the best interest of the child unless a
party objecting to the grandparent visitation shows that it
would be unsafe for the child; defining grandparent
visitation; requiring that an order of the circuit court
relating to grandparent visitation be clearly stated in
writing; and allowing a grandparent who has been denied
visitation by the mother or the father for a period of
ninety days or longer to petition the circuit court for an
order granting the grandparent reasonable visitation rights.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That section one, article two-b, chapter forty-eight of the
code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as
amended, be amended and reenacted; and that said article be
further amended by adding thereto a new section, designated
section ten, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 2B. GRANDPARENT VISITATION.
§48-2B-1. Legislative findings; intent; presumption;
definitions; writing requirement.
(a) The Legislature finds that circumstances may arise where
it is appropriate for circuit courts of this state to have
jurisdiction to grant to the grandparents of minor children a
right of visitation to enhance the best interests of the minor
child or children as well as the grandparent. The Legislature
further finds that in such situations, as in all situations
involving children, the best interests of children must be the
paramount consideration. It is the express intent of the
Legislature that the provisions for grandparent visitation set
forth in this article shall be exclusive and under all
circumstances the interests of the child or children involved
shall be the court's first and paramount consideration. However,
grandparent visitation shall be presumed to be in the best
interest of the child unless a party objecting to the grandparent visitation shows that it would be unsafe for the child.
(b) For purposes of this article, "grandparent" means a
biological grandparent, a person married or previously married to
a biological grandparent, or a person who has previously been
granted custody of the parent of a minor child with whom
visitation is sought by a court of competent jurisdiction.
(c) "Grandparent visitation" means an unsupervised visit
where spontaneity between child and grandparent can be enjoyed in
a natural setting.
(d) An order of a circuit court concerning the granting or
denial of grandparent visitation shall be clearly stated in
§48-2B-10. Grandparent visitation when visitation with minor child denied for ninety days or more.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary,
a grandparent may petition the circuit court of the county in
which he or she resides for an order granting the grandparent
reasonable visitation rights where he or she is denied visitation
by one or both of the parents of the minor child for a period of
ninety days or more.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to provide grandparents
with reasonable visitation rights.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken
from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.
§48-2B-10 is new; therefore, underscoring and strike- throughs have been omitted.