What about parents rights in West Virginia?

My husband and I have a beautiful son who is 16 years old and has autism. He is verbal, but does not understand interpersonal communication and is considered moderate to severe in the autism spectrum. In February 2009, his biological grandmother filed a petition for visitation and took us to court in May. We were shocked and confused as we hadn’t heard from her in over a year, so we obtained a lawyer . The grandmother wanted our son to stay with her in Portland Or., which is across the country, we live in WV. , for the whole summer without us. According to our lawyer, it was a ridiculous case and we felt confident that this would not happen. We were not against her coming to West Virginia to see him, but we did not want him shipped across the country. She wrote horrible things about our character, stated that we had never had him in therapy, etc… and by the time we got to the courtroom, we had no chance with the judge to state our side. We didn’t even get to testify, and our lawyer was talked over by the judge while he was trying to question our witness. The judge then ordered us to retrieve our son and bring him into court. He judged that our son’s school teacher, who had just gotten her teaching license two years ago, was an expert witness who was to evaluate our son’s reaction toward his grandmother. Yes, our son recognized her and sang nursery songs with her, but he reacts that way towards anyone, even total strangers. The judge asked the teacher if she thought it would be good for our son to see her, and she answered yes, but she did not think it was good for him to travel across the country. Long story short, based on this science experiment, ruled in favor of the grandmother to have our son shipped across the country for three weeks in the summer at her expense, but she states that she can’t afford to come out here and see him. This ruling is to last until he turns 18, Now she has appealed that and wants us to go back to court because she wants to change the definition of a minor in West Virginia and force us to send our child there every year for the rest our lives.

We are putting this out there because we feel like we, as parents, have not been given any power regarding making decisions for our child. We don’t mind her visiting him, but we want to be able to decide when and where and not be ordered by the court. We are very active in our children’s lives, we also have a 12 year old, we have dual careers, and have been married for 16 years.

Any help with resources, good lawyers, or advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much for your time.

Dave and Christina

Judge with bad judgment

This is not legal advice; I am not a lawyer.

I've heard from a friend of mine who is an attorney that grandparents generally do not have rights superior to the parents, especially if both parents are together and with the child.

It seems like you should get a good lawyer and an expert to address this ruling. Visitation is one thing, but requiring parents to send a child across the country to live with a grandparent for three weeks needs another look. If you are not happy with the lawyer, consider retaining a new lawyer.

Thanks Teri!

Thanks Teri!