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Understanding Grandparents’ Rights in Florida

| Nov 20, 2019 | Firm News

If you’re a grandparent and your child is getting a divorce from their partner, you may be concerned about how this will impact your ability to spend time with and care for your grandchildren. What if the other parent gets full custody and does not want to let your grandchildren spend time with you?

This is the main scenario in which people become concerned about grandparents’ rights. However, we’ve also encountered grandparents who want custody because they believe they can provide better lives for their grandchildren than the children’s parents because of issues like alcoholism or abuse.

Unfortunately for grandparents who find themselves in these situations, Florida grants grandparents much fewer rights to involvement with their grandchildren than many other states. In fact, in Florida grandparents only have the right to custody or visitation in the following specific circumstances.

  • Both parents are deceased, missing, or in a vegetative state.
  • One parent is deceased, missing, or in a vegetative state, and the other parent has been convicted of a violent felony.
  • Both parents have been convicted of violent felonies.

So, in short, as long as at least one of the child’s parents is alive, present, conscious, and not a felon, the state of Florida does not grant grandparents visitation or custody rights. Grandparents are only allowed to spend time with their grandchildren at the discretion of the child’s custodial parent or parents.

What can you do?

If your grandchild’s parent or parents do not want you to see them: Unfortunately, the law does not afford you any way to fight the parents’ decision. In the eyes of the law, the relationship between a child and parent is stronger than that between a child and grandparent. Parents have the right to decide what is best for their children, even if that means keeping grandparents out of the picture.

If you suspect your grandchild is being abused or neglected by a parent: You should report abusive circumstances to Florida Department of Children and Families right away. While it may not be possible for you to obtain custody of the child unless or until the parent is convicted of a crime, and only if both parents are convicted or absent, it is important that authorities know what you suspect so that they can get the child into a safer situation with the help of Child Protection Services.

If your circumstances meet the criteria above: Contact Rotella & Hernandez today for help navigating your case. We understand that you value your family and we are eager to guide you through these difficult times. Give us a call at 305-596-3618.