Grandparent-Grandchild Visitation in Florida
Unfortunately, sometimes when there is divorce and/or death within a family, there are also visitation-related disputes. While the courts will always be most concerned with what is in the best interests of the child, it is also important to note that grandparents do have certain visitation rights under some circumstances.
The Law in Florida
When it is in the best interests of the child, the court will award reasonable rights of visitation to a grandparent if:
- The parents’ marriage has been dissolved;
- One parent has deserted the child;
- The (minor) child was born out of wedlock (and not later determined to be born within wedlock);
- Both parents are deceased, missing, or in a persistent vegetative state;
- One parent is deceased, missing, or in a persistent vegetative state, and the other parent has been convicted of a felony or another offense involving violence which poses a substantial threat of harm to the minor child’s health or welfare.
In determining a child’s best interests, the court considers the following factors:
- The willingness of the grandparent(s) to encourage a close relationship between the child and parent(s);
- The length and quality of the prior relationship between the child and grandparent(s), including the love, affection, and other emotional ties between the child and the grandparent, as well as any involvement the grandparent had in providing regular care and support for the child;
- The preference of the child (if the child is of sufficient maturity to express a preference);
- Any reasons cited by the parent in ending contact or visitation between the child and grandparent;
- The mental and physical health of the child and grandparent(s); and
- Various other factors necessary, given the circumstances
Petitioning the Court
If a grandparent wishes to obtain court-ordered visitation with the grandchild, they would petition the court for visitation, whereby the court would then hold a preliminary hearing to determine if the petitioner/grandparent has made a prima facie showing of parental unfitness or significant harm to the child.
If the court finds that there is evidence of significant harm to the child, it may appoint a guardian ad litem and refer the matter to family mediation. The court can also proceed with a final hearing if family mediation does not resolve the issue.
The court is ultimately empowered to grant reasonable visitation to a grandparent if it finds that a parent is unfit, there is significant harm to the child, that visitation is in the best interest of the child, and that the visitation will not materially harm the parent-child relationship.
Visitation Attorneys Who Care
If you are seeking to establish visitation rights with a child—or fight them out of concern for your child—it is crucial that you work with a trusted attorney who is experienced in family law and works within the local courts such that they have an understanding of how family law proceedings work.
The family law attorneys at HD Law Partners have been practicing family law in Tampa and Orlando for over 50 years combined. We have a commitment to our clients in ensuring that their rights and interests are protected, especially when it comes to child custody and visitation issues. Contact us today to find out more about the services we can offer you and your family.