One concern that family members have in divorces, is whether or not they will still be able to visit the children. For many grandparents, a divorce can be worrisome. They may wonder if their time with their grandchildren will be limited, or cut off entirely. This can lead many grandparents to wonder if they have any rights to visitation.
In Florida, grandparents have visitation or custody rights to children only if very narrow parameters are met. In most cases, courts will not grant grandparents visitation rights, especially if one or both of the parents are opposed to grandparent visitation. If you are wondering whether or not the grandparents in your life have visitation rights to their grandchildren, here’s what you should know.
Grandparents and Visitation Rights
When parents divorce, Florida courts are often reluctant to assign visitation rights to grandparents, especially when one or both of the parents are reluctant to allow this type of visitation. Parents and grandparents are usually left to sort out visitation informally, without assistance or interference (depending on your perspective) from the court.
According to Florida Statute 752.011, grandparents may petition the court for visitation or custody rights only if:
- both parents are missing, deceased, or in a permanent vegetative state, or
- if one parent is missing, deceased, or in a vegetative state and the other parent has been convicted of a felony or a violent offense involving behavior that could pose a threat of harm to the child.
Grandparents do not have visitation rights in Florida if there is at least one parent who is present, not a felon, and never convicted of a violent crime.
Petitioning for Visitation and Custody Rights
If the above conditions apply to your case, you will first need to consult with a Florida family lawyer to determine whether you have a case. A preliminary hearing will decide if there is sufficient evidence of parental unfitness, or risk of significant harm to the child to justify grandparent custody, or court-ordered visitation.
Even if conditions regarding the parental situation are met, courts will usually only grant visitation or custody when:
- the parent is unfit,
- visitation or custody is in the best interests of the child, and
- such an arrangement will not harm the relationship between parent and child.
While it’s unfortunate that there might not be much you can do to get your visitation schedule with your grandchildren back to normal, you may still have options. In most cases, it’s best to contact an experienced family attorney to help if you have concerns.
Contact Experienced Family Lawyers in Florida Today With Your Grandparents’ Rights Questions
Few people consider how divorces affect everyone – including grandparents. However, if you believe you might have a case for grandparents rights or visitation, you should consult an attorney at Beller & Bustamante, P.L.
Our lawyers have the knowledge and experience you need to help ensure you retain your rights, even through a divorce. To schedule a consultation, call us today at 904-288-4414 or use our online contact form to set up an appointment.