RECENT LEGISLATION ENACTS NEW STANDARDS FOR GRANDPARENTS RIGHTS.
The answer, as often the case, is complicated. Historically, grandparents have held no legal visitation rights in the state of Florida. In the past the legislature has attempted to enact laws that give grandparents visitation rights, but the Florida Supreme Court has routinely struck down those laws, finding that there is no constitutional right for grandparents to have visitation in the state of Florida. Especially if one parent objects to the grand parents having visitation. The Florida Constitution stands for the premise that the state of Florida may not intrude upon a parents’ fundamental right to raise their children except in cases where the child is threatened with harm.
However, Governor Scott signed a new grandparents visitation law that went into effect on July 1, 2015. This new grandparents visitation law allows a grandparent to petition the court for visitation of a minor child whose parents are deceased, missing, or in a permanent vegetative state. Additionally, a grandparent may also petition for visitation when there are two parents, one of whom is deceased, missing or in a permanent vegetative state and the other has been convicted of a felony or an offense of violence. The new law also requires the grandparent to make a preliminary showing of parental unfitness or significant harm to the child.
The law requires that grandparents first attempt mediation. If that is ineffective, the court may, if it deems necessary, appoint a guardian ad litem for the child. The new law also lists several factors the court must consider in making its determination to award grandparent visitation.
It’s also worth noting that this is a Florida statute. If the grandchildren live outside the state of Florida, then this law would not apply. If you have questions about visitation with your grand children, contact a family law attorney to discuss the rights and responsibilities as they pertain to you.
If you have any questions related to your alimony, or require legal assistance in other areas of Family Law, you may always contact Damien McKinney of The McKinney Law Group to discuss your case further. He can be reached by phone at 813-428-3400 or by e-mail at [email protected].