K. C. O. APPELLANT
CABINET FOR HEALTH AND FAMILY SERVICES; C. D.; R. D.; AND C. R. O. APPELLEES AND C. O.
CABINET FOR HEALTH AND FAMILY SERVICES; C. D.; R. D.; AND K. C. O. APPELLEES
FROM WARREN CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE CATHERINE RICE
HOLDERFIELD, JUDGE ACTION NOS. 15-J-00445-001,
FOR APPELLANT K. C. O.: Joy D. Denton Bowling Green,
FOR APPELLANT C. O.: Steve O. Thornton Bowling Green,
FOR APPELLEE, CABINET FOR HEALTH AND FAMILY SERVICES: Leslie
Bucklew Assistant Warren County Attorney Bowling Green,
FOR APPELLEES, C. D. AND R. D.: Trevor W. Webb Bowling Green,
BEFORE: COMBS, DIXON, AND NICKELL, JUDGES.
parents, K.C.O. (mother) and C.O. (father), challenge the
Warren Circuit Court's award of grandparent visitation to
R.D. and C.D. (paternal grandparents) in an informal
adjustment order entered in a juvenile dependency, neglect
and abuse (DNA) proceeding in November 2015. Parents also
challenge the court's March 2016 denial of motions to
alter, vacate or amend the award and motions to terminate the
award. Upon review of the record, the briefs, and the law, we
affirm in part, vacate in part and remand for entry of an
order consistent with this Opinion.
statute, an award of grandparent visitation begins with a
grandparent petitioning for visitation under KRS 405.021(1) and demonstrating visitation
will be in the child's best interest by clear and
convincing evidence. This is not such a case. The
paternal grandparents never requested visitation; the trial
court, sua sponte, granted it even though the
paternal grandparents had not filed a petition seeking
visitation, were not parties to the DNA case, and had not
moved to intervene in the DNA case. Curiously, the maternal
grandparents (K.C. and B.C.), and the maternal
great-grandparents (D.B. and B.B.),  all of whom had moved to intervene, were
not granted visitation.
Visitation is not solely for the benefit of the adult visitor
but is aimed at fulfilling what many conceive to be a vital,
or at least a wholesome contribution to the child's
emotional well-being by permitting partial continuation of an
earlier established close relationship." Looper v.
McManus, Okla.App., 581 P.2d 487, 488 (1978).
Simpson v. Simpson, 586 S.W.2d 33 (Ky. 1979)
(abrogated by statute, as noted in B.F. v.
T.D., 194 S.W.3d 310 (Ky. 2006)).
to the DNA petition filed by the paternal grandparents, their
three-year-old grandson was living with his parents in a home
rife with domestic violence and regular intravenous
methamphetamine use. On August 7, 2015, mother telephoned the
paternal grandparents saying she and their child's father
had been involved in a domestic violence episode in their
son's presence. The paternal grandparents suspected
parents were using drugs-something mother admitted had been
occurring since father's release from drug court several
months earlier-prompting the paternal grandparents to take
mother and child into their home.
August 13, 2015, the parents allowed the paternal
grandparents to take the child to an out-of-state wedding.
Upon their return, the paternal grandparents asked to keep
the child while the parents addressed their drug issues.
According to the petition, the parents responded by
threatening to cause bodily harm to the paternal grandparents
and burn their home; the parents collected the child and
refused to allow the paternal grandparents to see him. In
response, some eighteen days after this episode began, the
paternal grandparents filed a juvenile DNA petition-supported
by affidavit-in the family court division of the Warren
Circuit Court, resulting in removal of child from both mother
temporary removal hearing that followed, no sworn testimony was
heard, but there was reference to rancor and discord between
the paternal grandparents and their son, the child's
father. When a civil, but passionate, battle for the child
erupted between the maternal and paternal sides of the
family, the trial court stated emphatically it was not
conducting a custody hearing and encouraged everyone to
"get real amicable real fast if you want this child to
stay out of foster care." At the time of this hearing,
CHFS had visited only the paternal grandparent's home,
where the social worker met the child whom she described as
by internal squabbles between the in-laws, but glad to see
relatives were willing to take the child, the court warned
that family conflict had to be reduced. The court also
expressed suspicion that all the grandparents knew more about
the parents' activities than they were revealing. The
court maintained the status quo, giving both sets of
grandparents equal visitation with the child at the
discretion of CHFS. Visitation by the parents was to be
October 16, 2015, CHFS had completed home evaluations of the
maternal great-grandparents, the maternal grandparents, and
the paternal grandparents, deeming all to be appropriate
placements. Of the three options, the social worker
recommended placement with the maternal grandparents because
the child "has a strong bond" with them and they
are "very supportive of [the parents] in their recovery
and progress." The maternal great-grandparents were
willing to take the child, but favored placement with the
maternal grandparents due to the child's "strong
bond" with them and the fact that other children were in
the maternal grandparents' home. The social worker did
not recommend placement with the paternal grandparents
"because there is another home that is better suited for
placement of the ...