Petitions for third-party visitation, including requests for visitation made by grandparents and other relatives, are heard in the Family Court. In the case of Samuels v. Jowers, No. 237, 2015 (Nov. 10, 2015), the Family Court heard and granted a petition for visitation filed by the maternal great-grandmother and grandmother of two minor children. The children’s father, Mr. Samuels, challenged the Family Court decision. On appeal Mr. Samuels argued that,
Family Court erred because: (i) the Maternal Grandmother has been involved in altercations in front of the Children with members of his family before and after the April 2015 hearing; (ii) the Maternal Grandmother bothered and upset the Children when she picked up her grandson at their daycare in May 2015; (iii) the Children have asthma and the Maternal Grandmother smokes; (iv) the Children never mentioned the Grandmothers to their counselor or to the Father; and (v) the Family Court ignored the Father’s concern that the Grandmothers would allow the Mother to see the Children during their monthly visits.
Most of these claims could not be considered on appeal because Mr. Samuels did not raise them at trial. The only issue considered by the Supreme Court was the claim that the trial court erred in granting visitation because children did not mention the grandmothers to their counselor.
The Supreme Court was not persuaded by this argument and affirmed the decision below. In doing so, the Court found that the Family Court did not err in concluding that visitation was in the best interests of the children and that the grandmothers provided clear and convincing evidence that the objection to visitation raised by Mr. Samuels was unreasonable. The decision may be read in its entirety here.
Leslie Spoltore is a Partner with the law firm Fox Rothschild LLP. Leslie practices in Fox Rothschild’s Wilmington, Delaware office. You can reach Leslie at (302) 622-4203, or firstname.lastname@example.org.