L.J.P. v. Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Ky COA, Grandparent Rights In Termination Action

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L.J.P. v. Cabinet for Health and Family Services, _ S.W.3d _ (Ky. App. 2008) 2008 WL 4998635

Paternal grandparents appealed trial court order denying their motion to intervene and request for custody of their grandchild in an involuntary termination of parental rights action. The issue on appeal was whether the grandparents have a right under CR 24.01 to intervene in a termination of parental rights action. COA found that grandparents have a “legally cognizable interest” in their grandchildren under Kentucky law. KRS 625.100 recognizes that the child’s relatives have an elevated status when the court awards custody of the child post-termination. It is difficult to understand how grandparents will assert their interest as potential custodians if intervention is not allowed. In addition, grandparent visitation survives termination proceedings if established prior to termination and in the best interests of the child. Pursuant to Baker v. Webb, grandparents have a right to intervene in adoption proceedings. COA held that “[t]he right of grandparents to intervene in an adoption proceeding, recognized in Baker, would be impaired or impeded if the grandparents were denied the right to intervene in the custody determination subsequent to a termination proceeding because the stability of the child as well as the child-grandparent relationship, factors to be considered in a subsequent adoption proceeding, may likely be adversely affected by the custody order that follows termination but precedes adoption.” Therefore, grandparents have a right to intervene in the custody determination under KRS 625.100. REVERSED AND REMANDED
Digested by Sarah Jost Nielsen, Diana L. Skaggs + Associates

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