2000 Regular Session
To: Judiciary A
By: Representative Peranich
House Bill 1236
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 93-16-3, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO DISALLOW COURT-ORDERED VISITATION BY GRANDPARENTS WHEN BOTH PARENTS OF THE CHILD OBJECT; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 93-16-3, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
93-16-3. (1) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (5), whenever (a) a court of this state enters a decree or order awarding custody of a minor child to one (1) of the parents of the child or terminating the parental rights of one (1) of the parents of a minor child, or (b) one (1) of the parents of a minor child dies, then either parent of the child's parents who was not awarded custody or whose parental rights have been terminated or who has died may petition the court in which the decree or order was rendered or, in the case of the death of a parent, petition the chancery court in the county in which the child resides, and seek visitation rights with such child.
(2) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (5), any grandparent who is not authorized to petition for visitation rights pursuant to subsection (1) of this section may petition the chancery court and seek visitation rights with his or her grandchild, and the court may grant visitation rights to the grandparent, provided the court finds:
(a) That the grandparent of the child had established a viable relationship with the child and the parent or custodian of the child unreasonably denied the grandparent visitation rights with the child; and
(b) That visitation rights of the grandparent with the child would be in the best interests of the child.
(3) For purposes of subsection (2) of this section, the term "viable relationship" means a relationship in which the grandparents or either of them have voluntarily and in good faith supported the child financially in whole or in part for a period of not less than six (6) months before filing any petition for visitation rights with the child or the grandparents have had frequent visitation including occasional overnight visitation with said child for a period of not less than one (1) year.
(4) Any petition for visitation rights under subsection (2) of this section shall be filed in the county where an order of custody as to such child has previously been entered. If no such custody order has been entered, then the grandparents' petition shall be filed in the county where the child resides or may be found. The court shall on motion of the parent or parents direct the grandparents to pay reasonable attorney's fees to the parent or parents in advance and prior to any hearing, except in cases in which the court finds that no financial hardship will be imposed upon the parents. The court may also direct the grandparents to pay reasonable attorney's fees to the parent or parents of the child and court costs regardless of the outcome of the petition.
(5) No court may order or grant visitation rights to a grandparent when both parents of the child or children object to visitation by the grandparent(s).
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.