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Ask Our Lawyer - July 2004

Q: Do grandparents in Indiana have visitation rights? My husband and I are good upstanding citizens. However, we have been forced to be outsiders in our grandchild's life. He doesn't even know who "Mamaw" is. We are only allowed to see our grandchild every 6 weeks or so, and only after begging (he is 2). His mother is a control freak and makes life miserable for my son every time he asks for us to visit or bring my grandchild over to see us. I don't want to make things worse for my son, but I do so want to see my grandson grow up . . . and I want him to know who we are.

A. State laws differ as to the rights of family members, other than parents, concerning visitation rights. Some address it only in the context of the death of a spouse/partner. Your best course of action is to consult with an experienced family law attorney in your area. Illinois used to have a specific statute that provides for reasonable visitation by a minor child's grandparent, great-grandparent, or sibling, under certain circumstances, such as where one parent has died and when it is in the best interests and welfare of the child. Indiana and Ohio currently have a similar statute. Before you get too excited, be aware that the Illinois statute has recently been found unconstitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court. Because the language of the statute allowed the judge hearing the custody/visitation issue to decide whether such visitation is in the "best interest of the child," the statute was deemed to infringe on the custodial parent's right to determine with whom their child associated. Additionally, a recent United States Supreme Court opinion raises doubts about all grandparent visitation statutes, so you need to check with an experienced family law attorney. Adding insult to injury, a recent Indiana appellate court held that the statute didn't apply to step grandparents, as they were not specifically listed in the legislation.

Unfortunately, family law litigation can become a power struggle between adults who may see things being done in a way they don't approve of or a parent who kept the peace and tolerated relatives when their spouse was alive but doesn't see the need to do that any longer. It becomes a case of winning for the adults rather than true concern for the well-being of the children.

Flabbergasted on the Web

I was recently doing some comparison shopping on the Web for motorcycle insurance. I was flabbergasted to find a website (who shall remain nameless) who allowed you to select your coverages. What amazed me was that the default selection for the underinsured and uninsured coverages was "NONE." Now, anyone who has read this column for any length of time or has ever seen my dog-and-pony show at the state conventions knows that one of my biggest concerns is for the motorcyclist who doesn't get sufficient uninsured and underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverages. It amazes me that any insurance company would suggest that no UM/UIM is an acceptable level of coverage. I've seen too many cases, and talked with too many riders, who have been gravely injured by someone with minimum or no coverage. UI/UIM coverage is the ONLY way you have of protecting yourself and your family against drivers with inadequate coverage. Never, NEVER, NEVER go without UM/UIM coverage.

Miracle Ride Continues to Make Miracles Happen

$277,000 in donations for Riley Hospital for Children, Ruth Buzzi, the Colts front line, Q-95's Bob and Tom, 10,000 motorcycles, and one helluva sound! Miracle Ride 2004 was a fabulous success, and everyone had a wonderful time at the event.

Thanks to Balls, Deb, the Committee, the wonderful Shulteti family, Bob, Anita, Kathy, Allen and Sandy Kite Hunt - they need a wing of the Hospital named after them.

Rick Chupp's Cycle Outfitters has been there from the beginning and, so has the best CPA in the world, Gino Johnson.

George Tinkham's Indian Rides Again


Q. Is it true that Abate of Illinois attorney, George Tinkam's 1948 Indian Chief is finally running after a quarter of a century of restoration? Virginia S.

A. Yes, Virginia it is true. George T's 1948 Indian Chief has gone on its trial run. George bought this motorcycle from Jim Morrison [that's his story and he's sticking to it] in 1968. He used it as his main transportation while he worked for the EPA. Interestingly enough for a while the motorcycle had a left-hand throttle. George explains that he shoots with his right hand. Those must have been tough days for George and the EPA. And this bike has history. It's been around the Springfield area for over a half a century. Put a little over two of those time periods together and Abe Lincoln could have ridden it.

George's advice to vintage motorcycle owners is to "wear comfortable shoes." On the "Chief's" test drive, the oil pump failed and George walked home. Stay tuned for more details.

Two battles in a long struggle

Safeguarding our rights can be a trying process, especially when there are overzealous cops and prosecutors trying to make it harder for us to live free. Recently, the Illinois courts handed down two opinions that may help determine where the line between free and not-free is.

In the first case, the court held that a motorist who refused to get out of his car in response to an officer's request after the motorist was stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence could be charged with obstructing a police officer, even though the motorist undertook no physical act. Having been near-missed by a few drunks - a good decision.

In the second case, the court held that a traffic stop of having a taillight out was not sufficient to extend the stop to allow a drug dog to sniff the vehicle. The observation of the defendant alone in vehicle idling on the side of the road was insufficient to turn the routine traffic stop into a search for drugs. Having been improperly stopped on my motorcycle - another equally good decision.

I'm not sure where all of this will lead, but we'll be there to keep on top of it for you.

Ride safe and free,

Rod Taylor

ABATE Legal Services

If you have any questions you would like to ask the lawyer, please submit them to: ASK OUR LAWYER, P.O. Box 2850, Indianapolis, Indiana 46206_2850, or email rodtaylor@abatelegal.com.