Civil Law Clinic Wins Visitation Rights for Grandmother

May 2, 2018

After almost three years of litigation in Alabama trial and appellate courts, The University of Alabama School of Law Civil Law Clinic secured and defended a grandmother’s right to visitation with her grandchild. Under Alabama law, when a child is adopted by a close relative, a grandparent is entitled to visitation when maintaining the familial relationship is in the child’s best interest. The Civil Law Clinic’s client is the paternal grandmother whose granddaughter was adopted by the child’s maternal grandmother. After the adoption, the maternal grandmother cutoff the paternal grandmother’s longstanding relationship with the child, not allowing her to see her granddaughter for two years.

The Clinic successfully petitioned the Tuscaloosa Probate Court to award the paternal grandmother visitation rights. The adopting maternal grandmother challenged the validity of the law before the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, the Alabama Supreme Court, and the United States Supreme Court. 

Over the course of three years, nine Civil Law Clinic students, supervised by Clinic Director Yuri Linetsky and Staff Attorney Caryn Roseman, worked tirelessly advocating for the client at hearings and drafting legal motions and briefs. After the Law Clinic’s victories in Alabama state courts, the maternal grandmother sought review before the U.S. Supreme Court with the help of Stanford Law School’s Supreme Court Clinic. The Alabama Law Civil Law Clinic, in partnership with Yale Law School’s Supreme Court Practice Clinic, drafted and filed an opposition brief, arguing that the U.S. Supreme Court should not review the case.

In April, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the maternal grandmother’s petition for review, letting stand the visitation order set in place by the probate court. The Civil Law Clinic was privileged to support its client’s courageous and tireless fight to see her granddaughter.