States' grandparent visitation laws raise concern

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A growing movement of grandparents seeking more rights for visitation with their grandchildren is exposing wide variations among states on the subject.

All states' laws and court precedents must meet a standard that was set in 2000 by the U.S. Supreme Court. The court said competent parents have the constitutional right to decide who spends time with their children, and that courts can overrule those wishes only in very narrow circumstances.

Grandparents in many states say it's unfair because those circumstances are far more restrictive in some states than others.

Many parents' groups are alarmed, though, by the possibility of courts loosening the standards and overriding their judgment calls -- and they say people rarely know the full story that compelled them to shield their children from those grandparents.