Grant v. Lynn, Ky COA, Grandparent Visitation, Pro Se Litigant

DATE RENDERED: 10/17/2008

Dad, pro se, appealed TC orders awarding grandparent visitation to Maternal Grandmother with Dad’s children, based on the best interests of the children. Mother is deceased.

The case had been at TC level on remand from last CA opinion in the case, in which CA vacated and remanded TC’s judgment denying visitation because Maternal Grandmother failed to prove the children would be harmed if they could not visit her under the standard of Scott v. Scott. CA remanded because the “harm” standard of Scott had been replaced with the “best interests of the child” standard of Vibbert v. Vibbert. On remand, TC found that it would be in children’s best interests to see Maternal Grandmother one half day each month and to speak with her on the telephone one half hour each week.

In response to Dad’s first argument that as a fit custodial parent, he should be permitted to raise his children without contact with or interference by his former wife’s family, CA stated that there was no argument as to Dad’s fitness as a parent; TC simply found it would be in the best interests of the children to have contact with the family of their late mother. CA found TC’s findings were supported by substantial evidence and the visitation terms were sufficiently tailored to preserve Dad’s desire to raise his children as he sees fit but to also allow the children to renew contact with their late mother’s family.

Dad next argued that KRS 405.021, which authorizes a court to award visitation to a grandparent when it is in the child’s best interest to do so, is unconstitutional. CA found that Dad “combed dozens of legal opinions and strung together a jumble of sentences that do not warrant striking down a statute that has previously withstood constitutional muster, especially when Dad offer[ed] no explanation as to how KRS 405.021 supposedly violates any of the quoted constitutional provisions. While we are willing to overlook inartful pleading by a pro se litigant, we are not willing to create an argument for him. A shotgun blast of random legal jargon and indiscriminate reference to a hodgepodge of legal authority does not a focused or articulate argument make, and such abusive practice misses any reasonable appellate mark or purpose.”
Digested by Michelle Eisenmenger Mapes, Diana L. Skaggs + Associates