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Do Grandparents Have the Right to Visitation?

The right of grandparents to visit their grandchildren, without regard to the relationship of the grandparents to the children’s parents, has made a number of appearances in Florida courts over the last few years. In recent news, the mother of Michelle Parker, missing since November 2011, received news that the Florida House civil justice committee has unanimously passed legislation that would allow grandparents the right to visit the children of their missing, dead or incapacitated children.

The issue of grandparents’ rights to visit their grandchildren has been raised in Florida courts before. A previous incarnation known as The Grandparents’ Bill of Rights was struck down. Those opposing that version called it unconstitutional, as it would have infringed on the right of the parent to control who sees or does not see their children. The current attempt is more restrictive than previous efforts, and would allow a court to order visitation for grandparents only under certain specific conditions.

In considering the petition of a grandparent to be included in time-sharing arrangements, the court considers many factors, including:

  • The best interest of the child
  • The nature of the  relationship of child with the grandparents
  • The amount of responsibility the grandparent has historically taken in the role of caretaking for the child
  • The concerns or objections the child’s parents voice regarding visitation with grandparent

Currently, Florida law allows a grandparent to seek visitation if the parents are divorced, the parent deserted the child or the parents were not legally married. As the role of grandparents has begun to change over the last few decades, many states are considering bills similar to Florida’s.

If your family is grappling with the issue of grandparent visitation, speak to a family law attorney. At Miller Morse Law, PLLC we take a personal interest in our clients, and we are equipped to deal with the highly emotional topic of grandparents’ rights.

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