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What Are My Visitation Rights as a Grandparent?

Grandparents RightAs a Tampa family law firm, one of the most common questions we receive is whether grandparents have rights when it comes to seeing their grandchildren.

Florida is home to the highest percentage of seniors in the country, so it’s no surprise that grandparents visitation rights are a prominent issue in our state.

Unfortunately, grandparents in Florida have very few rights regarding their grandchildren. In fact, most states offer grandparents minimal, if any, rights toward grand-kids.

The presumption in the majority of states, including Florida, is that a child’s parents are in the best position to act in their child’s best interests.

As such, courts are very reluctant to interfere with a parent’s right to make decisions on a child’s behalf.

However, a new grandparents’ rights law took effect on July 1, 2015 in Florida, and the law has been heralded as a promising step toward giving grandparents more legal options when it comes to seeing their grandchildren.

If you are a grandparent with concerns about a grandchild, don’t hesitate to contact a Tampa custody lawyer. Depending on the facts of your case, you may have more rights than you realize.

Florida’s New Grandparents’ Rights Law

Under Florida Statute 752.011, grandparents now have slightly more rights regarding their grand-kids. Since the new law took effect, grandparents can petition the court for court-ordered visitation under the following circumstances:

  • Both of the grandchild’s parents are deceased, in a persistent vegetative state, or can’t be located, or

  • One of the grandchild’s parents is deceased, in a persistent vegetative state, or missing and the other parent has been convicted of a felony or a violent criminal offense involving behavior that poses a threat of harm to the child

If these criteria sound quite narrow, it’s because they are. Florida courts have consistently ruled that a child’s parents have a legal right to say who is allowed to spend time with their kids, even if it means prohibiting a grandparent from seeing a grandchild.

Sadly, there are plenty of cases of loving, responsible grandparents being cut off from a grandchild by the child’s parent.

Unfortunately, some parents use a child as leverage after divorce, and a parent may prevent an ex or his or her family members from seeing the child unless they comply with the parent’s demands.

This can create a stressful and uncomfortable situation for everyone, including the child.

Divorce Impacts the Entire Family

Families come in all shapes and sizes, and grandparents often play a significant role in a child’s life.

In many cases, families rely on a grandparent to provide child care so the parents can work outside the home. In other cases, a grandparent offers financial support that makes it possible for a grandchild to enjoy a higher standard of living.

Whatever the case, most children benefit greatly from having a well-developed relationship with their extended family members, including grandparents.

Divorce is a very personal process for the spouses, but it’s also important to recognize its impact on a couple’s children and extended family.

When two spouses separate, it can create a strain on relationships with former in-laws.

In cases where the couple have minor children together, one spouse may be reluctant to allow the child to continue spending time with grandparents and other family members on the ex-spouse’s side of the family.

Family counselors and mental health professionals agree that isolating a child from his or her grandparents and other family members can be harmful.

If you are a grandparent who wishes to see a grandchild, it may be possible to negotiate time-sharing with the child’s parents without resorting to litigation.

Whether you use mediation or another approach, sometimes simply talking through your differences can bring about a positive result for everyone.

A Tampa child custody lawyer can help you explore your options.

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Call a Board Certified Tampa Divorce Lawyer about Your Case

Do you have questions about child custody and time-sharing in Florida? Contact a Tampa child custody lawyer who is Board Certified in Marital and Family Law by the Florida Bar about your case.

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