Mom of missing woman pushes custody rights for grandparents
By Tracy Jacim, Anchor -
ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -
It's a story that made national headlines. One day a woman was seen on an episode of The People's Court, the next day she vanished without a trace.
Michelle Parker was last seen November 17, 2011, when she dropped her twins off at father and prime suspect Dale Smith's house.
"They're 3-and-a-half years old, and in one day, they lost me, their Pop Pop, their aunts and uncles, their brother, their mother," said Parker's mother, Yvonne Stewart. "They lost everything just like that."
What some people don't realize is that Michelle and her toddler twins had lived with the children's grandparents prior to Orlando woman's disappearance. Now, Smith Jr has custody, and though the Stewarts have a written agreement with him, Smith ultimately has control.
Stewart is pushing for legislation that would give grandparents clear rights to their grandchildren, at the least, the legal right to petition the court for visitation.
Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, filed Florida House Bill 19 in Tallahassee. It will go through the legislative process.
"Grandparents need to be heard by a judge. We need the right to go to a court and ask a judge to hear our case, so he can decide if I'll be able to visit my grandchildren," said Steward. "I don't have the right to petition. That's what we want. We just want the right to be heard."