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Iowa Grandparents Rights

2007 Statutes Set New Standards for Visitation


Iowa grandparents' rights

The state of Iowa is not especially hospitable to grandparents' rights.

Image © State of Iowa

Following the lead of the U.S. Supreme Court in Troxel v. Granville, in 2001 the Iowa Supreme Court struck down a portion of that state's grandparent visitation statutes. One of the relevant cases was Santi v. Santi. In this case, the parents cut off the grandparents, saying that they repeatedly overstepped boundaries with regard to their grandchild. The grandparents sued for visitation, but because the younger Santis were an intact family and because their fitness had not been attacked, the grandparents lost the suit. The court decision commented that the statute "substitutes sentimentality for constitutionality." Further findings of unconstitutionality came in 2003 in the case In re Marriage of Howard.

In 2007 the legislature passed new statutes, but they make winning a grandparent visitation suit substantially harder, even requiring that grandparents attack the fitness of the parent. Under the new law, grandparents must "clearly and convincingly" prove that they have a substantial relationship with the grandchild, that the custodial parent is unfit to make a decision about visitation and that visitation is in the best interest of the child. Great-grandparents have the same rights as grandparents. It is not specified what types of proof are necessary to prove the preceding conditions.

Read the Iowa statute. The relevant statute is 600C.1.

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