In Florida, parents have a lot of control over child visitation matters. In fact, grandparent visitation in Florida isn’t a right “until a parent prohibits visitation completely.” Further, “a grandparent can’t ask a court for additional time with a grandchild if a parent is allowing some visits.”
It’s argued that these strict guidelines can create a situation in which grandparents are unable to foster a strong relationship with their grandchildren. But, with the laws as they are, is there anything a grandparent can do?
Do the courts favor parents?
There is a strong presumption favoring a parent’s actions and decisions in access-to-the kids. Florida courts will initially presume that a mom or dad is fit as a parent and acting in a child’s best interests. Grandparents seeking to change the status quo regarding visitation bear the burden of proving that those best interests are promoted through grandparent visitation.
And, notably, a request for visitation won’t even reach that point so long as a parent retains custody over a child. A Florida court will consider a grandparent’s visitation petition only if a child has been removed from a home (for various reasons ranging from substance abuse or mental instability to family violence, incarceration or death) and deemed a state dependent.
What can I do?
The bottom line concerning Florida grandparent visitation is that rights do exist but are very constrained. This is far from what most would assume is automatically granted by courts.
Seeking legal counsel is one way that grandparents can fight back if the situation becomes concerning. Organizing a regular custody schedule may help grandparents forge a stronger connection with grandchildren and also keep the peace in the family.