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Grandkids visitation law rejected

DES MOINES -- The Iowa Supreme Court struck down a state law yesterday guaranteeing visitation rights to grandparents, ruling it an unconstitutional intrusion on the rights of parents.

The court said it is unconstitutional for judges to question a parent's decisions unless the health or safety of the child is in danger.

The ruling prevents the state from intervening in the case of Arnie and Lucille Lamberts, who wanted to use the law to assure visitation with their granddaughter. The couple's daughter died during childbirth, and they said their relationship with their former son-in-law had deteriorated.

In making its decision, the court cited a 2000 US Supreme Court ruling that found a Washington state law went too far in allowing any person to win a court-ordered right to see a child if it is found to be in the child's best interest.

Courts in Michigan and Illinois since have struck down their visitation laws.

Last year, Massachusetts' high court ruled grandparents do have the right to see their grandchildren over a parent's objection, as long as they can prove denying visitation would be harmful.

The Iowa ruling is the third time the state court has considered the law, which let grandparents sue for visitation rights. The court struck down various aspects of the law each time.

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