Florida, known in part for its large population of senior citizens, is surprisingly one of the states in the US where it is extremely tough to obtain grandparent rights. A lot of this has to do with precedents set in the past, and how the state views individual rights.
Read on to learn about grandparent visitation in Florida, and the laws that govern it.
Florida is a state that puts a high value on individual rights. Perhaps one of the most revered rights of those is privacy. In Florida, people generally believe that government should not intervene unless it needs to. In fact, the state legislature added a privacy amendment to the state constitution in 1980.
“Every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from government intrusion into his private life except as otherwise provided herein.”
This belief of privacy without interference means that many grandparents cannot even bring a case for grandparents’ visitation to court. There are a few exceptions to the rule however.
The Harm Standard
The harm standard is the idea that if the court doesn’t allow visitation, that harm will come to the child. This harm can be psychological or emotional. Essentially this means that the only way that grandparents can sue for visitation is if their grandchild has a completely dysfunctional family unit.
In Florida, this dysfunction is pretty well defined in the state laws. Grandparents can sure for visitation if the parents of their grandchildren are deceased, missing, or in an extended coma. A small provision allows for a few more cases: one parent must meet the above listed factors, while the other one committed a felony or a violent act that threatens minors’ safety and welfare.
Outside of those limited parameters, it is essentially impossible to get a case to court. If you are unsure whether or not your case falls within the legal parameters, consult a family lawyer in your area for assistance.
If your case does fit into the limited situations outlined by the law, the court has a list of conditions around approving grandparent visitation. These conditions are called best-interest factors because they are designed to protect the best interests of the child or children involved.
- How willing are the grandparents to encourage a relationship between the children and their parent or parents?
- How much contact did the grandparents have with the children prior to the case?
- What type of interaction did the grandparents have with the children prior to the case?
- Does the child want to see their grandparents? (This only comes into play when the child is old enough to communicate their own wishes.)
- Is grandparent visitation good for the mental, physical, and emotional health of the child?
- Is the grandparent physically and mentally well enough to spend time with the child?
- Has the grandparent had “ongoing personal contact” with the child before issues arose with the parents?
- Will grandparent visitation harm the parent-child relationship?
What About Other Family Members?
Great-grandparents are granted the same conditions as grandparents. Although it is even more rare for great-grandparents to earn visitation because courts often express concern about the wellness of great-grandparents due to their age.
Other family members, unless the last will and testament says otherwise or they are legal next of kin, do not have visitation rights. If you have any questions about your specific case, contact your local family lawyer.