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Illinois grandparents fight for visitation after son's murder

In a high-profile Illinois case, the parents of a murder victim are continuing their fight for access to their grandchild. Their son and his ex-wife had been to court themselves to settle visitation matters, and it was during one of those court-ordered visits that the ex-wife's grandmother shot and killed the man. This visitation battle has crossed state lines and landed the ex-wife in jail.

The grandparents won the right to visit their granddaughter back in September. Just two months later, the ex-wife and the little girl left Illinois. The ex-wife has denied visitation to the grandparents since then, in direct violation of a number of court orders.

Florida, where the ex-wife lives now, does not recognized grandparents' rights to visitation, as Illinois does. And therein lies the rub. The ex-wife wants the visitation order transferred to Florida, where it would be unenforceable.

The grandparents have now filed motions with both the Illinois and Florida courts. In Illinois, they have asked that the court retain jurisdiction over the visitation matter. In Florida, they have asked the court not to change the jurisdiction.

In the meantime, life for the little girl has become even more complicated. When her mother failed to appear at a court hearing in Illinois, the judge in the matter issued a warrant for her arrest. She has been in jail in Florida since early March, fighting extradition to Illinois -- even though the governors of both states have approved the action. She faces nine counts of unlawful interference with child visitation in Illinois.

While her mother is in jail with no chance of bail, the child at the center of the furor is in the temporary custody of her maternal grandfather.

Source: The Jacksonville (Ill.) Journal-Courier, "Watkins grandparents fighting to retain visitation rights," Maria Nagle, 05/28/2011

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