December 03, 2019 Feature

Moving Beyond Troxel: The Uniform Nonparent Custody and Visitation Act

By Jeff Atkinson & Barbara Atwood


The Uniform Law Commission (ULC) gave final approval in July 2018 to the Uniform Nonparent Custody and Visitation Act (UNCVA), a statutory framework for resolving conflicts about third-party access to children.1 In this controversial area, courts and legislatures have taken varied approaches to accommodating the constitutional liberty of parents with the state’s duty to protect children’s welfare. The enigmatic case of Troxel v. Granville2 recognizes a baseline presumption favoring parental authority over children’s custody and care but provides no real guidance for determining when deference to parental decision-making is not required. The UNCVA moves beyond Troxel to balance, within constitutional limits, the interests of children, parents, and nonparents with whom children have a close relationship.

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