Grandparents play a significant role in their grandchildren’s lives. In many families, grandparents even contribute to raising their grandkids.
Unfortunately, if the grandchild’s parents get divorced, the relationship between the grandchild and the grandparents may very well end. But in many states, grandparents may seek court-ordered visitation time in order to ensure a continued lasting and loving relationship with their grandkids.
Although grandparents can earn visitation rights in Florida, both parents must either be deceased, missing, or in a persistent vegetative state. But if one parent is deceased, missing, or in a vegetative state, then the other parent must be convicted of a felony or violent offense that threatens the health or welfare of the child for a grandparent to earn visitation time.
In other words, if there is one parent still alive and not a violent felon, then the grandparents cannot obtain visitation rights. Since 1995, after Florida Statute 752.011 became law, grandparents who meet this criterion can only request visitation with the court.
Previously, a grandparent could petition for visitation time if the parents got divorced, a parent abandoned the child, or the child was born out of wedlock and the parents never got married. However, obtaining visitation rights had still been difficult because the court automatically presumes a parent’s decision is in the best interest of the child. So, if a parent rejects grandparent visitation, a grandparent must show the court that the visitation is in the child’s best interests, and the child would be harmed by the lack of visitation time with the grandparent.
On the other hand, under Section 39.509, if a grandchild becomes adjudicated a dependent child due to parental abuse, neglect, or abandonment—resulting in the termination of parental rights—a grandparent can obtain visitation rights if it is in the child’s best interests. In addition, grandparents may also adopt a grandchild, so long as the parental rights are terminated.
If you are interested in obtaining or modifying visitation time in Altamonte Springs or within Central Florida, contact the Law Office of Russell S. Hershkowitz, L.L.C. today at (407) 753-4111 for a free initial consultation. Providing clients with compassionate and personalized legal services for more than 25 years!