Do Grandparents have Visitation Rights in Florida?

Following a divorce, death, or other event in a family, one or more sets of grandparents may be left without open access to visit with their grandchildren. In such situations, these grandparents may wonder whether they have a legal right to maintain a relationship with their children and whether the court can provide them with visitation rights. While some states still preserve grandparents’ rights to visitation, Florida has one of the strictest policies regarding grandparents’ rights and only grants visitation rights against a parent’s wishes in very limited circumstances.

Parents’ Fundamental Rights to a Child

In recent years, Florida courts have upheld a parent’s fundamental right to decide what is in the best interests of a child with minimal intervention by the courts or government. For this reason, if a parent decides that they do not want their child to have contact with grandparents, a court will generally honor the parent’s wishes. Unfortunately, this makes it quite difficult for grandparents to be awarded legal rights to visit with their grandchildren.

When can a grandparent get visitation or custody rights?

Florida law does allow for grandparents—maternal, paternal, or step-grandparents—to retain visitation rights if a child has been removed from the parent’s home and adjudicated a dependent of the state. The court must find that continued visitation and relationships with the grandparents is in the best interest of the child. For example, if a grandparent has previously been found guilty of physical or sexual abuse of a child, the court may withhold these visitation rights.

If a grandparent is awarded visitation rights of a child who has been removed from their parents, the grandparents will be responsible for all costs of transportation to visits and must work with the child’s caseworker to arrange the visits. The grandparent is not allowed to arrange a visit with the child and the child’s parent, or else they risk losing all visitation rights.

Under other limited circumstances, Florida law allows a grandparent to take temporary custody if they make a sufficient showing that temporary placement in their home will be better for the child than placement in a foster home or other facility. Florida courts weigh these decisions very carefully to make sure the parent-child relationship is not unnecessarily threatened by the wishes of the grandparents to retain rights over their grandchild. As you can see, grandparents obtaining visitation or custody rights to grandchildren may be difficult—though not impossible—in Florida.

Contact a Boca Raton Family Law Attorney for Assistance Today

Whether you are a grandparent trying to get visitation or custody rights of your grandchildren or you are a parent trying to protect your rights to raise your child as you see fit, you should always consult with an experienced family law attorney. Alan R. Burton is a highly experienced family lawyer in Boca Raton who is familiar with all of the updates in Florida custody and family laws. Do not hesitate to call our office for assistance with a possible case today.