2006 Regular Session
To: Military Affairs; Judiciary A
By: Representative Snowden
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 93-16-3, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO ALLOW A GRANDPARENT TO PETITION FOR VISITATION RIGHTS WITH HIS OR HER GRANDCHILD WHEN THE CHILD'S PARENT IS ON ACTIVE MILITARY SERVICE IN THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES IN AN ACTIVE DUTY STATUS; TO REARRANGE, WITHOUT CHANGING THE SUBSTANCE OF AND IN ORDER TO CLARIFY, THE PROVISION DESCRIBING THE OTHER INSTANCES IN WHICH A GRANDPARENT MAY SEEK VISITATION RIGHTS WITH A GRANDCHILD; 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) The grandparent of a minor child may seek visitation rights with the child in the following instances:
(a) Whenever a court of this state has entered a decree or order awarding custody of a minor child to one (1) of the parents of the child * * *, either parent of the child's parents who was not awarded custody * * * may petition the court in which the decree or order was rendered * * * and seek visitation rights with the child.
(b) Whenever a court of this state has entered a decree or order terminating the parental rights of one (1) of the parents of a minor child, either parent of the child's parent whose parental rights have been terminated may petition the court in which the decree or order was rendered and seek visitation rights with the child.
(c) Whenever one (1) of the parents of a minor child dies, either parent of the child's parent who has died may petition the chancery court in the county in which the child resides and seek visitation rights with the child.
(d) Whenever one (1) of the parents of a minor child is on active federal service as a member of the Armed Forces of the United States in an active duty status and that parent is not residing with the child, either parent of the child's parent who is on such active federal service may petition the chancery court in the county in which the child resides and seek visitation rights with the child.
(2) 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.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2006.