How many people interview their prospective in-laws about homosexuality, climate change, or corporal punishment?
I suspect very few people. Yet when a marriage falls apart, and the grandparents come knocking at your door with a summons looking for unsupervised visitation, what are the red flags that prevent you from trusting your ex-in-laws with your precious child?
And how do you battle that out in court?
Grandparents Arrive with a Summons
This is what happened to Kristin Glueckert after she separated from her husband, Thayer Glueckert.
She and Thayer got married, had a son and while Thayer was still on active duty in the military outside of their home state of Montana, the couple separated.
What would you do if you separated from your ex, remained busy working and raising a son as a single parent and then your ex-in-laws started to demand unsupervised visitation with your only child?
In Kristin's case, her son had lived with her since birth and Thayer would see his son whenever he was home on leave.
Unhappy with the supervised visits, the grandparents suddenly decided they wanted to be able to visit with the grandson without having to see the ex-daughter-in-law.
Specifically, they wanted four, three-hour unsupervised visits per week and additional unsupervised visits on special occasions throughout the year.
Kristen wasn't too pleased.
Mother Can't Endorse Former In-Laws' Political Views
Kristin was especially concerned about her ex-in-laws views on corporal punishment, homosexuality, and the way they treated other family members.
After some investigation, the District Court decided that Kristin was a fit parent and that there wasn't any reason the grandparents would need substantially more time with their grandson.
Well, the grandparents weren't too happy with that decision, so they filed an appeal to the Supreme Court of the State of Montana.
The justices pointed to several cases that indicated that if a fit parent objects to contact by the grandparents with a child there can be a presumption in favor of a parent's wishes, forcing the grandparents to present evidence to overcome the presumption.
During the appeal, the mother noted that she limited her child's visits with the grandparents because she felt the grandparents' actions and beliefs were not in the best interest of her child.
For example, the grandparents believed that all homosexuals go to hell. The grandparents also referred to members of Kristin's family as fat and lazy. And Kristin didn't care for the way the grandparents gossiped about other family members in front of her son.
The mother noted that despite the grandparents' petition and appeal, she continued to allow the one-hour supervised visits at her home. She also noted that when she moved to Idaho to continue her education, she would continue to provide supervised visits with her son.
What's in the Best Interest of the Child Is Always a Decisive Factor
The grandparents argued that the District Court failed to prove what was in the best interest of the child. In addition, they argued that when a parenting plan was established that their son Thayer would undoubtedly allow them to have unsupervised visits with the grandson.
That type of argument makes you wonder about the grandparents' attorney, doesn't it?
Although the grandparents did not respect the ex- daughter-in-law's reasons for limiting their contact, the justices said that Kristin had a "fundamental liberty interest" to make her decisions about her child.
As such, the justices affirmed the Court District's decision, handing a victory to Kristin.
There was one partially dissenting opinion, however. Although Justice Jim Rice didn't believe the grandparents needed multiple, multi-hour weekly unsupervised visits with the grandchild, he did believe that the grandparents were entitled to have a visitation schedule set up.