In an ideal world, families are so close-knit that grandparents see and speak to their grandchildren at any time. There are times, however, when family disputes between parents and grandparents boil over. This might result with cut off contact between grandparents and grandchildren. In cases such as these, it is natural for grandparents to be able to assert some legal rights to have a relationship with their grandchildren. In this article, we will discuss what grandparent rights, if any, exist under Florida law.

What Standard Does Florida Family Court Use?

For minors in Florida, the state applies the standard that action must be in the “best interest of the child”.  This standard is in Florida Statute 61.13.

Who Has The Right to Decide “Best Interest of the Child”?

In Florida, parents have the right to determine the “best interest of the child” with little outside interference. In cases where there is a rift between the parents and grandparents, the court usually sides with the parents. This leaves little to no recourse for the grandparents.

So Do Grandparent Rights Even Exist?

It depends. When a child has been removed from the parent’s custody, then the courts typically try to keep them with family. This falls under “the best interest of the child” standard.  This means that the court will typically looks to grandparents as an ideal new home for the child. In cases where the child has been permanently removed from their parents, the grandparents can seek to have full parental rights over the child and therefore retain the right to determine the “best interest of the child” moving forward.

If the child has only temporarily been removed from the parents, the grandparents may seek temporary custody of the child by proving that it is in the “best interest of the child” to remain with the grandparents as opposed to a stranger foster family.  The court will need to determine whether giving temporary custody rights to the grandparents will ruin the parent-child relationship.

Can Grandparents Adopt the Child?

As long as the parents of the child retain parental rights, the grandparents will not be able to adopt the child without the parents relinquishing those rights. On the other hand, if parents lose or relinquish their parental rights, then grandparents may seek to adopt the child.

Can One Set of Grandparents Prevent Another Set of Grandparents From Visiting the Child?

It would depend on the circumstances of the situation.  If one set of grandparents have been given full parental rights over the child, then they would be allowed to prevent the other set of grandparents from having a relationship with the child.  On the other hand, if the grandparents only have temporary custody of the child, then the court might intervene to determine if having a relationship with the other set of grandparents would be in the “best interest of the child” and to see if it will hurt or enhance the parent-child relationship.