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Grandparents’ Rights For Custody and Visitation in Florida
Studies show that grandparents can and do significantly contribute to the wellbeing of their grandchildren. Close relationships between grandchild and grandparent are even linked to reduced emotional and behavioral problems. And the importance of having grandparents in their lives increases for children when their parents are divorced or separated.
However, there can be challenges for grandparents when it comes to seeking custody or visitation rights in Florida. While the well-being and best interest of the child or children are always given serious consideration, judges have shown great deference to the wishes of custodial parents. To be sure, there is some legal precedent for grandparents to petition for the right to visit their grandchildren. However, a grandparent would have to prove good reasons why they should be awarded visitation rights against the wishes of the custodial parent.
Because the burden of proof lies with the grandparent and convincing a judge to grant visitation rights or custody can be complex and challenging, it is best to work with a skilled grandparent rights lawyer.
Why a Grandparent Might Want to Seek Custody or Visitation
There are many reasons why a grandparent might seek visitation rights or custody of their grandchild or grandchildren. If a grandparent’s child is deployed in the military, the son or daughter could assign visitation rights to the grandparent of their children in their stead. However, if the child’s spouse objects to the visitation rights for some reason it would be up to the grandparent to convince the judge that it is in the best interest of the child to allow visitation.
Other situations in which a grandparent could seek visitation include:
If one or both of the parents are missing
If one or both of the parents are deceased
If one or both of the parents are in a vegetative state
If one or both of the parents have been convicted of a felony and are considered a threat to the well-being of the child
If the parents are divorced and the custodial parent has thus far refused visitation to the grandparents
Instead of simply being awarded visitation rights, some grandparents might seek custody of their grandchildren. This might happen if a grandparent believes the parent or parents are unfit to raise their children. Again, the burden of proof would lie with the grandparents.
Circumstances where a grandparent could potentially seek custody include:
If the parents have abandoned the child or children
If the parent or parents have abused the child or children
Claiming any or all of the above would undoubtedly lead to a fierce legal battle. If you are considering any action that seeks visitation rights or custody against the will or wishes of one or either parent of your grandchild or grandchildren it is crucial you hire a qualified family lawyer to assist you in your case.
Mediation Might Be the Best Option
Before launching what could end up being a lengthy and ugly legal battle, it is wise to consider all options. In some cases, through mediation, parents, and grandparents can find solutions that work to the benefit of all, especially grandchild or grandchildren.
Mediation is a collaborative process rather than an adversarial one and can often lead to positive outcomes where each side may have to compromise some, but ultimately get something they are seeking. A good mediator will take an impartial stance and offer insights and solutions that might be hard to come by through traditional courtroom proceedings.
Finally, mediation is a good first step no matter how questions of visitation end up. Rather than bombarding a custodial parent with a surprise legal attack and forcing them to take a defensive posture, offering to settle the matter of visitation via a mediator communicates a collaborative spirit and your willingness to work together to find a suitable solution.