Grandparents’ rights in the state of Florida is a somewhat tricky matter. There is language in the law that allows for grandparents’ rights and visitation and even custody, but many times people believe that grandparents have more rights than they actually do. Many years ago, there was a statute that actually gave grandparents visitation. It simply stated in a divorce or if one parent was dead the deceased child’s parents could seek visitation of their offspring. Basically, the Supreme Court of Florida knocked that down saying that parents had a right to raise their own children, and grandparents do not have a right to interfere with the raising of your children. Think about it, it does make sense. It was ruled unconstitutional. Let’s say you had a falling out with your parent, do you want that parent to be able to petition the court to see your children against your will? So it completely makes sense that grandparents’ rights are limited.
However, it also makes sense that in a situation where children need some stability and the state gets involved, grandparents should be the first people that the state looks too. In adoption situations or even abandonment drug issues, where children are involved, most reasonable people will agree that grandparents, if they want to be involved, would be the best thing for the children. It is a high standard, however. No person can just come in and interfere with the sanctity of the right of one parent to raise their children. There has been movement on this issue recently. Lets take a loos Statute 751 and Florida Statute 752 specifically.
This year (2016) Governor Rick Scott helped grandparents out a little bit with new legislation. His belief, is that he helped the children of Florida out as well. Don’t be fooled into thinking that grandparents have more rights; they don’t. As in any area of the law there are thresholds that must be passed. Basically, grandparents can get visitation for a grandchild whose “parents” are deceased, missing, or in a persistent vegetative state. They can also get visitation if one parent is deceased, missing, or in a persistent state and whose other parent has been convicted of a felony or an offense of violence evincing behavior that poses a substantial threat of harm to the minor child’s health or welfare. This is a Florida Statute and you can see that it is not easy. A grandparent can’t simply petition the court for visitation and get it. If you are trying to get some type of time-sharing as a grandparent the first place you should go is Florida Statute Chapter 751. This is temporary custody of minor children by extended family.
The statute is pretty straight forward, it basically deals with kids who are in a dangerous situation whether just simply by neglect or something much worse. As with any proceeding, there are technicalities that must be followed or the whole case can be easily dismissed. For example, each petition must be verified. This is simple, but an attorney can kick your entire case out of court just for missing something as easy as that. Read the statute carefully. Again, all the intentions can be well and the grandparent can be the best parent on the planet, but it can be difficult. To get a petition for temporary custody granted, the court can only do this if by “clear and convincing evidence,…the child’s parent or parents are unfit to provide for the care and control of the child.” This is an extremely high standard. This is much higher than a criminal case conviction, for example. This does not deal with terminating parental rights, all this is temporary and the parents can come back into the picture rather easily. The main grandparent visitation statute is Chapter 752 in Florida Statutes. These chapters are easy to find by simply googling them. There are very strict technicalities with Chapter 752.
To quickly summerize this blog post, basically a grandparent does have rights but only if the parents are almost completely unfit. If you have any future questions please go to our website at divorcemenonly.com or contact one of our attorneys to set up a consultation. Kenny Leigh & Associates is a law firm that practices in Florida that exclusively represents men in family law.