NOTE: Our law firm does not handle grandparent rights cases. This article is for informational purposes only. Information found in the article does not constitute as formal legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship.
In most cases, children can benefit from a close and ongoing relationship with their grandparents. However, children do not have a say in the matter– parents do.
If you are seeking access to your grandchildren, an Orlando grandparent rights attorneys may be able to help you.
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Why Hire Our Orlando Grandparent Rights Lawyers?
Seeking grandparent rights in Florida can be challenging. The state legislature tried to pass laws expanding a grandparent’s right to visitation with grandchildren.
Many of the laws never made it out of committee or failed a vote. Yet, the courts grant grandparents visitation rights in some cases.
The laws are complicated. Courts hesitate to override a parent’s wishes.
Therefore, you need experienced Orlando grandparent rights lawyers to fight for what is best for you and your grandchildren. Our lawyers have significant experience handling these types of family law cases.
Our legal team understands that the case involves sensitive issues. Your goal is to obtain visitation with your grandchildren. You are concerned about the best interests of your grandchildren, and so are we.
Our legal team works with you to analyze the situation to determine the best course of action to take. We may be able to negotiate a successful outcome through mediation.
If we cannot work outside the courts to gain an acceptable solution, we are prepared to file suit to protect you and your grandchildren. Our lawyers are talented trial attorneys who advocate for the best interests of all parties to a family court action.
Do Grandparents Have Visitation Rights in Florida?
Visitation (now referred to as time-sharing in Florida) is not easy to obtain for grandparents. Even though there is a Florida statute that permits grandparents to petition the court for visitation with a minor child, judges have been hesitant to override a parent’s wishes.
The Florida Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the parents in many grandparent rights lawsuits. The Court has held that a parent’s right to privacy is a fundamental right. The justices found that the courts cannot intrude upon that right unless there is a compelling state interest.
Therefore, the battle for grandparent rights in Florida continues today. The Supreme Court in Florida has not held that all grandparent visitation rights are unconstitutional, and the statute for grandparent visitation is still in force. So, there is hope.
However, the battle for grandparent rights can be fierce. You need an experienced Orlando family law attorney to fight the battle for you. Our lawyers understand the statutes governing grandparent rights and the case law that are applied in these types of cases.
We use our considerable experience, skills, and resources to develop a strategy designed to give you and your grandchildren the outcome you desire.
Reasons Why Florida Courts May Grant Grandparent Visitation
There are two specific statutes that grandparents may use to petition for visitation with their grandchildren.
The first statute protects a parent who is actively deployed to assign the parent’s time-sharing with the children to another person. Therefore, if your son or daughter is deployed for more than 90 days, he or she may assign you the right to exercise visitation with your grandchildren.
Keep in mind that the other parent could object, leaving you to prove that it is in the child’s best interest to allow the assigned visitation while your child is deployed or activated with the military.
The second statue gives grandparents the right to petition for grandparent visitation under certain circumstances. However, the grandparents have the burden of proving parental unfitness or significant harm to the child. If the grandparents fail to meet the burden of proof, the court dismisses the action.
Under the statute, grandparents can petition the courts for visitation with a minor grandchild if:
The parents are missing, deceased, or in a persistent vegetative state;
One parent is missing, deceased, or in a persistent vegetative state; or;
A parent has been convicted of an offense of violence or a felony that poses a substantial threat of harm to the child’s welfare or health.
Because the burden of proof is on the grandparent, it is crucial that you work with an experienced Orlando family lawyer who understands the legal requirements for these cases. The court must find that the evidence you provide is “clear and convincing” as to the parent’s unfitness or the threat of harm to the child.
Why Do Grandparents Seek Visitation Rights in Florida?
There are many reasons why a grandparent may petition the court for visitation rights with a grandchild. Grandparents may seek visitation with their grandchildren after a parent dies, and the other parent refuses to allow the grandparents to seek their grandchildren.
Another common reason for grandparents to seek court-ordered visitation is when the parents never married. The custodial parent may refuse to allow the grandparents to see the child. If the other parent does not have any legal right to make decisions for the child, it can cause a battle between the grandparents and the custodial parent.
Divorce is another common situation that can lead to a grandparent’s petition for visitation. A parent may seek to “punish” the other parent or grandparents by denying visitation with the child.
Whatever the reason may be for legal action, you are likely to have an uphill battle. Be prepared for the battle by working with our legal team to develop a strategy that utilizes the current case law and statutes to support your argument that it is in your grandchild’s best interest to allow visitation with you.
What Does the Court Consider When Awarding Florida Grandparent Visitation Rights?
When the court does consider awarding visitation rights to a grandparent because the parents are deceased, the parents are unfit, or for another reason, the court examines several factors to ensure that visitation between the child and the grandparent is in the child’s best interest.
Factors that the court considers include, but are not limited to:
The physical and mental health of the grandparents;
The willingness of the grandparents to encourage a close parent-child relationship;
The duration and quality of the relationship between the grandparent and the child;
The relationship between the grandparent and the child;
The child’s preference, depending on the age and maturity of the child;
The effect on any current time-sharing agreement between the child’s parents; and,
The physical and mental health of the child.
As in other visitation matters before the court, the best interests of the child are the guiding factor that determines whether the court grants grandparent rights.
Seeking Custody of a Grandchild in Florida
If a grandparent believes that a parent is unfit, grandparents can seek permanent or temporary custody of their grandchildren. Family law attorneys assist grandparents in preparing a petition to file with the court based on current Florida law related to unfit parents.
The courts must protect a child’s best interest. If the court is notified that a child is in danger or harm, the court can act to protect the welfare of the child, including awarding temporary custody to a grandparent.
However, the grandparents must prove that the parent is unfit and that the grandparent is fit to have custody of the child. Cases that might result in a grandparent receiving custody of a child include abandonment, child abuse, domestic violence, and substance abuse. Disagreements regarding child-rearing that do not harm the child are not sufficient reasons to petition the court for visitation or custody.
Hire an Aggressive Grandparents Rights Lawyer to Help You and Your Grandchild
Convincing a judge that you and your grandchild deserve to have visitation can be challenging. The Florida courts have not been on the side of grandparents for a long time. However, the courts are on the side of the child.
If you can frame your grandparent rights petition as being in the best interest of the child, you have a better chance of winning your case. Our Orlando family law attorneys can help. Let us prepare a case that strongly advocates for the best interest of your grandchild.
Contact our team today for a free consultation to discuss your situation.