In Little Rock, AR, Senator Gary Stubblefield announced that he plans on filing legislation to make it easier for grandparents to visit or adopt their grandchildren.
According to the Times Record, Stubblefield made his comments following Dale and Tammy Bridges’ testimony. The Bridges told the Joint Performance Review Committee that although they helped raise their three grandchildren when they were babies, they have not been able to see them for the last seven months.
Dale said that they have tried to gain visitation access through the courts, but the system has failed them. Whether or not a grandparent is estranged from their spouse or children, they still have the right to petition for visitation rights with their grandchildren. Arkansas law states that grandparents can petition for “reasonable” visitation rights.
“What is the definition of a reasonable amount of time?” asked Dale. “There isn’t one.”
The Bridges hope that a new law will be introduced in the near future that includes the definition of a reasonable visitation. They believe visitation rights for one weekend per month would be reasonable, and think the current system is unfair.
“Please consider helping us and all grandparents,” Dale Bridges said. “We hope and pray it doesn’t happen to anyone.”
Stubblefield suggests that drugs are causing problems with families and have “changed the whole culture.”
“I have watched grandparents drive over the same types of situations that we’re dealing with here,” Stubblefield said. “The injustices being done to grandparents and the preferences that’s given to drug dealers and the deadbeat dads. To be frank with you, I’m getting a life tired of it.”
Stubblefield isn’t exactly sure what kind of legislation he will file on the issue of grandparent visitation, but he does expect to make some changes coming next year to make it easier for grandparents to adopt or, at the very least, see their grandchildren.
“I will give you my word right now that I will run a piece of legislation this next session to change this,” said Stubblefield, who has four grandchildren of his own.