On behalf of The Law Office of Gustavo E. Frances, P.A.
Grandparents can be a constant, stabilizing force when children are going through life’s hardships. Children look to their grandparents following a divorce, death, or other life-changing events in a family. Often, one or more sets of grandparents become estranged from the grandkids and left without access to visitation.
In such situations, grandparents are left wondering whether they have a legal right to preserve their relationships with their grandchildren and can family court offer them a chance to gain visitation rights.
Fort Lauderdale family law attorney Gustavo E. Frances understands the importance of family relationships and is always eager to help untangle the messiness that life’s challenges can knot.
A Hard Road To Visitation
Grandparents often play integral roles in their grandchildren’s lives, but historically, Florida laws frequently leave them out of the equation for sharing visitation. In most divorce cases, no visitation rights are given to the grandparents unless the conditions of the visitation are agreed to by both parents.
Some states’ laws work hard to preserve visitation rights to grandparents, but Florida maintains one of the strictest policies concerning grandparents’ rights. Visitation is rarely granted against a parent’s wishes. Florida courts consistently uphold a parent’s right to decide what is best for their child.
When parents choose to limit or eliminate contact between their child and the child’s grandparents, family courts usually do not intervene and honor the parent’s choice. This hands-off approach has made a hard road for grandparents requesting legal rights to visitation with grandchildren.
Florida law even makes it difficult for grandparents—maternal, paternal, or step-grandparents—to retain visitation rights when children have been removed from parent’s homes and deemed dependents of the state. The court must first investigate whether the continued relationship with their grandparents is in their best interest.
A Tiny Light in the Distance
There are some Florida statutes that offer a glimmer of hope for grandparents who feel they have been left in the cold. In 2015, Florida passed a series of statutes (Sections 752.011, 39.509, and 63.087). These sections increased the permissions of Grandparents to request visitation privileges and even file for custody in extreme cases.
These statutes only permit in only very limited circumstances. Grandparents may seek visitation from the court if:
- One or both parents are deceased, missing, vegetative state, or violent criminals
- Your grandchild is deemed dependent and removed from the parent(s) physical custody
- Both parents have abused, abandoned, or neglected your grandchild, you can seek to terminate the parental rights and adopt your grandchild
Florida law also allows a grandparent to take temporary custody if they can convince the court that temporary placement in their home will be better for the child than placement in a foster home or another facility.
Whichever Road You Take, You Need a Copilot
No matter what road you are on, it is nice to have a navigator. Whether you are a grandparent searching for visitation or custody rights of your grandchildren, or you are a parent protecting your rights to raise your child with their best interests in mind, you should always consult with an experienced family law attorney to guide you.
Gustavo E. Frances is a strong advocate and passionate family law attorney in Fort Lauderdale. Call us at 954-533-2756 or 954-297-6546 (nights and weekends) to help you navigate the legal process from start to finish.