Court of Appeals Declined to Extend Stepparent Adoption Exception in Hicks v. Enlow Where Grandmother Adopted Minor Child – Published Opinion from Kentucky Court of Appeals

Toddler Holding Hand

Blackaby v. Barnes


Child was born to Mother and Father. Maternal Grandmother petitioned Family Court for adoption of Child, to which Mother consented. Father contested the adoption, but he died before completion of Child’s adoption proceedings. On October 23, 2017, Family Court entered a judgment of adoption. Paternal Grandfather petitioned Family Court for grandparent visitation on September 25, 2018. Family Court determined that Paternal Grandfather did not have standing to pursue grandparent visitation, because he did not petition the Court for grandparent visitation prior to the termination of Father’s parental rights, as required by KRS 405.021(a), and Hicks v. Enlow, 764 S.W.2d 68 (Ky. 1989), cuts off grandparent visitation rights after an adoption or termination of parental rights, unless the child is adopted by a stepparent. Paternal Grandfather appealed.


The Court of Appeals affirmed Family Court, holding that the only exception to grandparent visitation rights being cut off by adoption or termination of parents rights are those established in Hicks for stepparent adoption or where the grandparent has preserved their right utilizing a court under KRS 405.021. Because Paternal Grandfather never preserved his right to have visitation with Child under KRS 405.021 and Child was not adopted by a stepparent, he did not meet either exception.


Digested by Nathan R. Hardymon

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