Gribble v. Gribble

In Gribble v. Gribble, 583 P.2d 64 (Utah 1978), the Court based a stepparent's standing to seek visitation upon an interpretation of a Utah divorce statute, which states in part that "visitation rights of parents, grandparents and other relatives shall take into consideration the welfare of the child." Utah Code Ann. 30-3-5 (1953) (current version at Utah Code Ann. 30-3-5(5)(a) (Supp. 2006)). We read this phrase to "indicate the legislative intent to protect the relationships which affect the child whose parents are being divorced" and reasoned that an individual who "stands in the relationship of parent, grandparent, or other relative" had standing under the statute to seek visitation. Gribble, 583 P.2d at 66. Although the Court used the in loco parentis doctrine as an interpretive tool to guide the inquiry as to who stands in one of these relationships, the ultimate source of standing was the statute itself--not the common law doctrine of in loco parentis. Id. at 68.