Child Visitation and Incompetent Parents

By HSK, January 12, 2015

The Fifth District Court of Appeals recently decided a case involving the right of an adult child to visit with an incompetent parent.  Many families experience the trouble that sometimes occurs when a child has visitation with a parent at a nursing home or assisted living environment and the parent is later determined to have been agitated by the visit(s).  Usually it is another family member who perceives the agitation, and a family dispute ensues.  The probate court has the jurisdiction to address this type of problem, but the probate court must observe due process when entering orders regarding such problems.  In this case, the probate judge ordered that a particular child have a psychological assessment before having any more visits with his father.  The order was based on a report issued by a guardian ad litem, but was not supported by actual testimony.  Even worse, the adult child was not put on notice that the court would be considering such an extreme response, and he was not called to testify or permitted to testify.  The court of appeals determined that placing such a restriction on an adult child without a hearing was impermissible.  Arguments about who should visit mom or dad and under what restrictions are more common that most persons know.  A good probate lawyer would help prevent such disagreements from spinning out of control and into the probate court.

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