Yaffa Family Law Group
By: Doreen Yaffa

Visitation and Custody Rights of Grandparents

Child Custody, Visitation Rights

Grandparents play an integral role in developing our next generation. Many parents enjoy and benefit from having their parents assist with raising their children; whether the grandparents are the primary daily babysitter or the grandparents have custody of the children while the parent(s) is/are somehow unavailable. Despite this, grandparents may not have any right to their grandchildren. If you are a grandparent and fall into one of these categories, you may be wondering whether you have any rights as to visitation with your grandchildren. Or, maybe you’re a parent and are wondering what your rights are as to limiting the visitation of your children to their grandparents.

In many children’s lives, their grandparents play a unique and main role. Some parents welcome the help and advice from the grandparents with open arms, and others do the exact opposite. Each state has its own laws regarding grandparent visitation. When it comes to Florida, we have one of the strictest policies regarding grandparents’ rights as Florida only grants visitation rights against a parent’s wishes in very limited circumstances.

Florida family courts base all their decisions off the “best interests of the child.” For this reason, if you’re a parent who decides you don’t want your child(ren) to have any contact with their grandparents, the courts will generally look into and decide what the best interest of the children is. This unfortunately makes it challenging if you’re a grandparent, wishing to be awarded “legal rights” to visit your grandchildren when a parent cuts off your time together.

According to Florida Statute §39.509, “a maternal or paternal grandparent, as well as a step-grandparent, is entitled to reasonable visitation with his or her grandchild who has been adjudicated a dependent child and taken from the physical custody of the parent unless the court finds that such visitation is not in the best interest of the child or that such visitation would interfere with the goals of the case plan.”

There are limited circumstances, however, where Florida allows you as a grandparent to take temporary custody of your grandchild, but you must be able to make a showing that temporary placement in your home will be better for the grandchild than placing them in a foster home or other facilities.

Even in the horrible event of death of a parent or a divorce, a court will most likely refuse to grant visitation to a grandparent if the other parent is a fit parent and can prohibit any contact between the child(ren) and grandparents. For example, a child’s father may die, and the mother can legally prevent the child from ever seeing their paternal grandparents while they are minors.

It is possible, however, for you as a grandparent to obtain legal custody of your grandchild. For a court to do this, doing so must be in the child’s best interests, and the parents must have been deemed unfit, or the parent (or parents) must pose a danger to the child. All in all, in Florida, your rights as a grandparent are always second to a parent’s rights. This is because parents have a fundamental right to privacy in raising their own children and this is considered one of the most important rights that parents have. Whether you are a grandparent or a parent, it is important to understand your rights.

If you or someone you know is seeking advice on Grandparents rights, you can speak with one of our family law attorneys at the Yaffa Family Law Group at 561-276-3880 or visit our website at www.yaffafamilylawgroup.com to schedule your confidential complimentary consultation.