Do Grandparents Have Visitation Rights in Florida?
Family structures can be complex to navigate and understand. While it may seem like common sense that allowing children to have a relationship with their grandparents would be beneficial to them in most cases, their parents do not always agree. Sometimes the parental reasons are valid, while other times they are genuinely not in the best interest of the child. For instance, abusive parents may isolate their children from other family members in order to hide the abuse and deny them an external support system. This can be scary and frustrating for grandparents who want to make sure that their grandchildren are safe and supported. In other cases, parents may simply deny grandparents access to their children for no discernible reason, which can leave grandparents confused and wondering what their options are. Unfortunately, in most cases, Florida law is not very supportive of grandparents’ visitation rights. However, depending on the specific situation, grandparents may have legal avenues available to them.
Grandparent Visitation Rights in Florida
It is important to understand that grandparents do not have an inherent right to visit their grandchildren. It is also important to understand that in order to have any available legal protections, grandparents must have been denied all visitation with the grandchildren. In other words, a grandparent does not have standing to bring a claim if they are seeking to increase their visitation, they must have been completely denied the opportunity to see their grandchildren to bring a claim. Additionally, a grandparent still is not entitled to visitation unless the child has been removed from the parents’ custody and it is found that grandparent visitation is in the child’s best interest.
These can be significant hurdles to overcome. Florida courts have held that parents are to be given great deference in determining what is best for their children, and their choice to deny visitation to the grandparents should be assumed to be in the best interest of the children. In fact, a previous statute which allowed visitation for grandparents if the parents died or if one became deceased was found to be unconstitutional as it overruled the parents’ decision-making authority over their children. If the parent is found to be fit and proper, it can also be hard to demonstrate that not seeing the child’s grandparents would harm them. However, these hurdles become much easier to get past if it can be shown that the parent is unfit or that the parent or parents pose a danger to the child. It is not an easy battle to fight, but many grandparents have fought this battle and won. In many cases, just understanding that you are serious enough about visitation to retain counsel will make parents reconsider their decision to deny you all visitation rights. In others, the legal process may be longer, but there are different avenues available depending on the facts and circumstances of your specific situation.
Talk to a Florida Family Law Attorney
If you are a grandparent who has been denied access to your grandchildren and you have concerns about their well-being, the SG Firm can help you assess your options for visitation and determine the best path to reunification. Contact the SG firm today and schedule a consultation.