The day was called Crossover Day in the State Capitol, the final day of reckoning for most bills seeking to become law this year. Any bill that didn't pass out of at least one chamber by the end of the day, with a few exceptions, was essentially dead.
HB 1198 ( http://www.legis.ga.gov/
The bill was introduced by Rep. John Meadows (R-Calhoun) and would provide for an opportunity to seek grandparent visitation in cases where the parent is deceased, incapacitated, or incarcerated or otherwise unable to exercise his or her discretion regarding a decision to permit grandparent visitation. The bill would also instruct judges considering visitation to consider whether the grandparents paid more than half the child’s living expenses or had kept the child in their home for at least six months. Judges would also be able to consider the parents’ wishes. HB 1198 passed unanimously, 154 to zero. This does not allow grandparents to file separate cases seeking to establish visitation, as our state supreme court declared such laws unconstitutional several years ago. The bill is now in the senate and it is anticipated it will pass.
Consider a current case in the context of HB 1198:
Grandparents take care of child on a daily basis while parents work. This goes on for a few years, until the Father of the child dies. The Mother, after a few months, decides to stop allowing the granddaughter to visit with her paternal grandparents. Under the current law, for the Grandparents to attain visitation rights, the court would have to find that the child WILL suffer actual harm if the grandparents do not get to see her.
Under the new law, if it passes as expected, the law has a presumption that the child will be injured. The new law also mandates that court award a MINIMUM of 24 hours a month in parenting time. This is a huge swing in the right direction. So many grandparents get blocked from visitation after a death, divorce or an unwanted pregnancy.
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