Michelle Parker vanished nearly a year ago. She disappeared the same day she was featured in an episode of the television program The People's Court.
Her ex-fiance, Dale Smith Jr., was also on that show. He is the prime suspect in her disappearance, but he has never been arrested. In fact, he has custody of the couple's children. Parker's mother, Yvonne Stewart, fought to get quality time with her grandchildren. It has been a very difficult time for the family.
"It still hurts every day, not knowing where she is, or what happened to her," sad Stewart.
Making matters more difficult, Stewart has had to fight to see her twin 4-and-a-half year old grandchildren, Dale and Taylor. In Florida, grandparents have no such rights when the parent is the legal custodian.
"Right now, there's no laws in the state of Florida that allow grandparents to even ask. We could have to have a law, crazy, to even ask."
Stewart wants to change that. With the help of her attorney, Matt Morgan, she lobbied Florida State Representative Darryl Roussan, of Sarasota, to sponsor a bill. Morgan said "Michelle's Law" would give grandparents the right to ask the court for visitation.
"At the end of the day, what we really want is the ability to be heard, the ability to petition the court to say, 'You tell us if it's fair and in our grand kids best interest to have visitation,'" said Morgan, describing the months of negotiating between Smith and Stewart to get an agreement as a "dog fight."
Stewart said she now gets to see her grandchildren every other weekend. "I'm crying now. We get to see them for set hours. It's limited time, but it's working. So I'm happy about that," she said.
Before Michelle disappeared, she and the twins lived under Yvonne's roof. Ideally, she said she would like to see them more, but she is at the mercy of what the children's father will allow.
"My family deserves to see these twins. That's what Michelle would want. We're her voice and I'm going to be her voice, and I'm going to try," said Stewart. "I need everybody to go to Change.org and click that Michelle petition law. I need help."
If you're interested in learning more about this or signing the online petition, click here.
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