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     ... the legislature intended the courts to use their equitable powers
to continue the policy
     direction of the visitation statutes, that is, to exercise their powers
for the best interest
     of the child when a triggering event justifies state intervention. (689)
  The majority went on to hold that the law does not support the biological
parent's absolute
rights in their children, but rather requires the court to respect parental
autonomy and at the same
time serve the best interest of the child. It concluded that the case should
be remanded to the trial
court where the plaintiff would have the burden of proof regarding four elements:
her relation-
ship with the child; the defendant's consent to that relationship; the plaintiff's
assumption of ob-
ligations regarding the development of the child; and the length of time
the child and plaintiff
were involved in a bonding, dependent relationship. In addition, the majority
said the plaintiff
must prove that a significant triggering event had occurred that justified
state intervention, in this
case that the parent interfered substantially with the plaintiff's parent-like
relationship with the
child and that the plaintiff sought court-ordered visitation within a reasonable
time after the par-
ent's interference.
  In concurring and dissenting opinions, Justice Roland Day, Justice Donald
Steinmetz and Jus-
tice Jon Wilcox concurred with the majority that the plaintiff had no cause
of action for custody,
but dissented regarding the right to visitation, arguing that Chapter 767
is the only vehicle for
a nonparent to obtain visitation rights. They said that the courts have consistently
held that par-
ents have the right to decide who may visit their children and compelling
circumstances must
exist before a court will interfere with a parent's decision. Their dissents
said that Chapter 767
only applies if there is an action affecting the family or if the family
is dissolving. In this case,
neither of these criteria were met, so, they concluded, the courts have no
right to interfere with
the parental decision regarding visitation.





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