Family situations can get complicated, and sometimes a parent might restrict visits between grandparents and grandchildren. Is this legal? Can grandparents fight back?
If you’ve ever wondered what visitation rights Florida grandparents have, this post will tell you what you need to know.
Grandparents’ Visitation Rights in Florida
What can grandparents do? Not much.
If the parent allows some visits, a grandparent cannot request more time with the child. If the grandparent is completely barred from seeing their grandchild, they may be able to file for court-ordered visitation.
Even then, they can’t do so if the parents are alive and acting in a custodial manner over the child. If the parents are out of the picture, grandparents still must prove that their right to see the child is in the child’s best interests.
A judge will consider all factors and decide based on what’s best for the children. How does the court decide this?
The Child’s Best Interests
The best interests of the child are based on factors like these:
- Quality and length of preexisting relationship between the child and grandparents
- Grandparents’ willingness to encourage a close relationship between the child and parents
- Preference of the child, depending on the child’s age
- The child’s physical and mental health
- The grandparents’ physical and mental health
Again, the court will only grant visitation to grandparents if the child is no longer in a parent’s custody and the child’s best interests are served through visitation. Florida law prohibits parental rights to be overridden unless the child will experience harm if grandparent visits don’t happen. Yet grandparents are allowed to seek visitation if the parents are missing, have died, or are in a persistent vegetative state.
Grandparents’ Rights at Work in Florida
One Florida case denied visitation rights to a grandmother. After the children’s parents divorced, the mother died, and the father refused to allow the maternal grandmother to see the children. When the grandmother requested visitation based on the children’s best interests, the court denied her request because the father was declared a fit parent.
The state law on grandparents’ rights allows reasonable visitation between grandchildren and grandparents or step-grandparents as long as the visits are in the children’s best interests. Visits are permitted in the grandparents’ home, and grandparents are responsible for costs of the child’s transportation when the visitation is in the home. Appropriate displays of affection, gifts, and letters or cards are allowed by the courts between grandparents and grandchildren.
Grandparents’ visitation rights can be revoked for several reasons, including taking the children out of state, committing lewd or lascivious behavior, committing sexual battery or incest, or committing acts of abuse or neglect.
Custody for Florida Grandparents
The Florida court system grants child custody to grandparents only in highly unusual circumstances. If a parent presents a danger to his or her child, or is deemed unfit, the court may transfer custody to grandparents.
When both parents lose their parental rights, Florida law gives grandparents top priority if they choose to adopt the child, as long as the adoption is in the child’s best interest.
Adoption by grandparents grants full legal rights over the children and severs legal ties with the parents. If a stepparent or other relative adopts the children, the court may not grant visitation rights to grandparents unless the grandparents can prove the children are being harmed.
Consult with a Florida Family Law Attorney
Are you a grandparent with questions about visitation rights? Consult with a knowledgeable Florida family lawyer for more information. We’ll help you understand your rights based on your unique family situation. Schedule your free case review with us today.