Can grandparents get visitation rights?

On behalf of Furr & Cohen, P.A. posted in Child Custody on Thursday, June 4, 2015.

Laws are constantly changing and can vary widely between states, which means that getting accurate information –particularly in matters involving child custody or visitation — from a knowledgeable party is crucial to understanding what to expect from the family court system.

Grandparents’ rights are a complicated and often very touchy issue. The courts generally recognize that the parents have the right to decide with whom their children will spend time.

However, the courts also believe that the best interests of the child must be protected. This can mean that some grandparents may have grounds to get court-ordered visitation if their situations meet certain criteria.

It can be extremely difficult for grandparents to be awarded visitation if both parents still have custody of the children. However, according to Florida law, grandparents — both biological and legal stepgrandparents — can petition the courts for visitation if the grandchild in question is an adjudicated dependent child and was removed from the parents’ physical custody.

In these cases, grandparents are generally allowed to enjoy visitation time in their own homes, display appropriate levels of affection and give the child any gifts or letters themselves. Grandparents must be careful, however, to abide by the court order and not do anything, such as facilitate visitation between the adjudicated child and parent, that may result in the grandparents’ visitation rights being rescinded.

It is also important to remember that the courts are always looking for what is in the child’s best interests. If there is a history of the grandparent abusing the child or otherwise being inappropriate, the courts may decide that visitation is not an option.

Source: The Florida Senate, “2012 Florida Statutes,” accessed June 04, 2015