Do Grandparents Have Custody Rights in Florida?
As family law professionals, we know how complex family life can be. For any number of reasons – From valid to petty –, A parent may choose to limit visits between grandparents and grandchildren. Can parents restrict the time children spend with grandparents? Can grandparents fight for visitation or even custody rights? If you have questions about grandparents’ rights in Florida, you’ve come to the right article. First, we will go over what options are available to grandparents and situations that might involve custody.
Grandparent Rights in Florida
What can they do if a grandparent wants to see their grandchild more or take custody? In the State of Florida, their options are sadly quite limited. This is especially true for grandparents who see their grandchildren on occasion. Unfortunately, there is no way for grandparents to force more time with their grandchildren if visitation is permitted by the parents at all. However, there are options if a family member has completely barred the grandparent from visiting the child. In addition, a grandparent might be able to request court-ordered visitation in some cases.
Even in these situations, the option is not available if parents are alive and maintaining custody of the child. Even when the parents are gone, grandparents must prove that seeing the child is in the child’s best interest. The State of Florida makes room for reasonable visitation if the visits are in the child’s best interest. Visitation can occur at home in these cases, but grandparents are responsible for paying all transportation costs for a visit. Gifts, letters, cards, and other correspondence and appropriate affection are allowed. Much of Florida’s Family Law is based around the best interest of the child… But what does that mean?
What is the Child’s Best Interest?
The simplest way to think of “best interest” is if an act will improve the child’s life. Courts consider things like the quality of relationships with the child, the grandparents’ intent to encourage a positive parental relationship with the child, the child’s preferences based on age, the child’s health, and the grandparents’ health. Of course, all this is moot if the child is still in the parent’s custody, and visitation serves the child’s best interest.
Can Grandparents Take Custody Rights in Florida?
It is very unusual for Florida courts to grant custody to a grandparent. In cases of an unfit or dangerous parent, the court might give the grandparents custody rights. If adoption is in the child’s best interest, the court gives grandparents top priority for adoption in some cases. Those cases generally involve both parents losing their parental rights. If a grandparent adopts a grandchild, they are given full legal rights to the child. This also ends the child’s legal ties to their parents. A step-parent or relative adopting the child may prevent visitation for the grandparent unless grandparents prove the children are in danger of harm.
The Bottom Line
Grandparents have very limited options in Florida, as priority is given to parents in most cases. Contact us today if you have questions about your rights as a grandparent in Florida. Our experienced Florida family attorneys can help you understand your rights. As every situation is different, yours may present opportunities not listed here.