In the fall of 2008, the issue of grandparent rights in a custody proceeding came before both the Ohio and Kentucky Courts of Appeals. It is no surprise the Courts were interpreting the same rule on similar facts and ruled differently.

The issue before both Courts was whether grandparents should be allowed to intervene in a petition to involuntarily terminate their children’s parental rights over their grandchildren. In both cases motions had been filed to sever parental rights and the concerned grandparents cited Civil Rule 24 (Intervention) as the rule allowing them to become a party. In both cases, the trial
court denied intervention.

Ohio Civ. R. 24(A) and Kentucky CR 24.01 are identical and allow an interested party to intervene as a matter of right when a person has an interest relating to the subject matter of anaction and is so situated that disposition of the action may impair or impede such person’s ability to protect that interest. The Kentucky Court of Appeals held that grandparents can intervene
while the Ohio Court of Appeals denied the grandparents requested relief. The difference in the decision is an insight as to how the states will treat the rights of grandparents.

In Kentucky, grandparents “rights” have been recognized both by statute and case law. Pursuant to KRS 405.021, grandparent visitation statutorily survives termination of parental rights if established before such termination and is not contrary to the best interests of the child. In Ohio, the standard is much higher. In order for grandparents to intervene, they must have exercised
significant control over, or assumed parental duties for the benefit of their grandchildren.

Read the full opinions: Click here for Ohio Opinion, Click here for Kentucky Opinion

Mark E. Godbey & Associates
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Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
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