Family Law: Grandparent rights in involuntary termination — P. (L.J.) v. CABINET FOR HEALTH AND FAMILY SERVICES (COA 11/26/2008)

P. (L.J.)  v.  CABINET FOR HEALTH AND FAMILY
SERVICES
FAMILY LAW:  Grandparent rights in termination action
2007-CA-001783
PUBLISHED: REVERSING AND REMANDING
PANEL: CAPERTON PRESIDING; LAMBERT, THOMPSON CONCUR
KENTON COUNTY
DATE RENDERED: 11/26/2008

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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