The relationship between grandparent and grandchild can be one of the most nourishing bonds that a person experiences. Breaking that bond or never allowing one to develop can be incredibly painful.
Florida law protects the parent’s right to decide who may have contact with a child. Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to unnecessary alienation from loving family members. In some extremely special circumstances, a grandparent can secure the right to visitation if they can prove it is in the child’s best interest. However, this can be surprisingly difficult without the guidance of a diligent family law attorney.
If you are being denied meaningful contact with your grandchild, a Coral Gables grandparents’ rights lawyer can assist you in understanding your legal options. Make an appointment with us today.
Grandparents’ Rights to Visitation are Limited
People are often shocked to learn a grandparent has no legal right to visitation with a grandchild against the parent’s wishes. Furthermore, the parent is not required to state a specific reason for refusing to allow the contact.
If tensions or a dispute with a parent has interrupted the relationship between a grandparent and a grandchild, grandparents have little legal recourse in most cases. Turning to family counseling or mediation to reach an understanding with the parent could be the most effective way of regaining visitation with grandchildren. A Coral Gables attorney with experience in grandparents’ rights can provide legal insight into fixing this situation.
Visitation Rights When Child Has Been Removed from Parents
If child protection authorities have removed a child from their parent’s custody and moved them to a foster home or care facility, Florida Statute § 39.509 provides grandparents and step-grandparents the opportunity for visitation unless the visitation might be harmful to the child.
Florida courts could decide that visitation is harmful if a grandparent has a history of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual misconduct, active substance misuse, or violent crime. If a child objects to visiting with the grandparents, courts will consider the child’s wishes in making their determination.
A grandparent who has visitation rights must abide by specific procedures in order to keep those rights. For example, grandparents must arrange visits through the child’s caseworker, not their foster family or the residential facility. Additionally, if the grandparent attempts to arrange a meeting between the child and their parent, the grandparent’s rights to visitation will terminate immediately.
Can a Grandparent Obtain Custody of a Child?
Fla. Stat. §751 allows a grandparent to petition for custody if the parents cannot care for their children. This could be due to substance misuse, mental health challenges, criminal acts, domestic violence, or other activity or events that could create a dangerous environment.
Florida courts prefer that children of unfit parents live with extended family members rather than move into the foster care system. However, courts also must respect parents’ rights and could be reluctant to place a child in a grandparent’s home against the parents’ wishes. In either case, the grandparent must prove that they have a close relationship with the child and that living with them is in the child’s best interest. A Coral Gables grandparents’ rights attorney can help gather and present convincing evidence of these facts.
Enlist the Help of a Florida Grandparents’ Rights Attorney in Coral Gables Today
If you are in the heartbreaking situation of not having a chance to be with your grandchildren, you might not know where to turn. A compassionate attorney can explain the legal alternatives that might be helpful in your specific circumstances.
Do not allow time to slip away without doing everything in your power to maintain a relationship with your grandchildren. Call today to schedule a free consultation with a Florida grandparents’ rights lawyer in Coral Gables.