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What visiting rights do grandparents have?

WebMD Feature

March 13, 2000 (Palo Alto, Calif.) -- All that Gary and Jenifer Troxel wanted was to watch their granddaughters grow up -- to see them on holidays and weekends and even a couple of weeks in the summertime.

All that Tommie Granville Wynn wanted was to get on with her life and create a new family for her two daughters after her partner, their father, committed suicide.

Unfortunately, Tommie's partner was Gary and Jenifer's son.

And the ensuing seven-year battle between the grandparents, Gary and Jenifer Troxel, and the mother, Tommie Granville Wynn, has led to a landmark lawsuit, now before the U.S. Supreme Court, that raises tough questions about the limits of parenting and grandparenting.

At issue is the constitutionality of a far-reaching Washington state law allowing "any person at any time" to petition the court for the right to visit a child, even if the parents object.

Chief Justice William Rehnquist put it best: "To what extent can a court intervene on parents when there is no harm to the children?" he asked during oral arguments, which took place on Jan. 12. "Does this mean a great-aunt can come in and say, 'I want to take them to the movies every Friday'?"

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