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What Are the Rights of Florida Grandparents?

Florida has one of the highest rates of grandchildren living in the homes of their grandparents. Even for the majority of children who live with their parents, studies show a much greater level of regular educational, day care and financial involvement by grandparents in recent years. In prior generations, grandparents received few visitation or custody rights after a divorce. Despite grandparents’ increased support and involvement in Florida now, a grandparent’s right to custody or visitation is, at best, unclear.

The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that certain aspects of the grandparent visitation rights laws are unconstitutional because they constitute impermissible state interference with parents’ rights to raise their children. However, these laws have not yet been removed or replaced. At any rate, there are differences of opinion regarding the authority of these statutes. The laws as they exist generally grant grandparent visitation rights to children whose parents divorced or abandoned them — if visitation is in the best interest of the child.

Some statutory factors to determine the child’s best interests include:

  • The respective mental and physical fitness of the child and grandparents
  • The duration and quality of the child-grandparents’ relationship
  • The child’s preference for their grandparent’s visitations, depending on the child’s age
  • Whether the grandparents encourage the child to have good relations with his or her parents

Grandparents’ custody rights in Florida are now very limited, at best. Grandparents have narrow bases to request temporary custody in abuse or neglect cases when the primary custodial parent cannot provide a safe and stable home due to a parent’s mental or physical disabilities, substance abuse, or history of abusing the child. If one of the parents objects to grandparent custody, the petitioner has to overcome the courts’ strong assumption that parental custody is ultimately in the best interest of the child.

If you cannot agree on a visitation arrangement with the parents of your grandchildren, contact our well-informed Boca Raton child custody attorney, Jennifer T. Miller-Morse, to see what your options are.

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