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Melissa A. Featherston

Grandparents' rights major topic in Missouri and beyond

The issue of grandparents´ rights is a daily topic all across the nation. Grandparents are seeking the right to visitation, child custody, and legal claim to their grandchildren. Many grandparents in Missouri have to ask if they will see their grandchildren again instead of being able to ask when. For some, grandparents´ rights may be the key to keeping annual vacations from becoming nightmares.

A police sergeant has been charged with second-degree custodial interference after refusing to return his 2-year-old grandson to the child's mother. The grandparents, who live several hours away from the mother, originally took the child on what was supposed to be a three week vacation. The holiday feeling ended after the mother obtained court orders for the child´s return based upon allegations that the grandparents were illegally holding the child.

A judge in the grandparents´ area upheld the court orders that were obtained by the mother and issued a search and seizure warrant to local officials. State police raided the grandparents´ home, but the child was not there. He and his grandmother were later found at a relative´s home. The grandfather turned himself in after being told that there was a warrant out for his arrest. He has since been released on his own recognizance and was scheduled for arraignment in early April.

Since the arrest, the grandparents have sought legal assistance. Their lawyer is appealing the decision by the local judge that upheld the orders for the return of the child based on the insistence that the mother abandoned the child to the grandparents. She has also filed a federal lawsuit charging the child´s mother with defamation. While it remains to be seen how these proceedings will be resolved, it remains clear that grandparents' rights is an issue of growing importance in Missouri and across the country.

Source: Connecticut Post, "Cop in custody battle surrenders," Daniel Tepfer, March 26, 2013

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