Under Florida law, parents’ rights take priority when determining visitation and custody. However, depending on the child’s best interests, grandparents may have options. If you have questions about grandparents’ rights in Florida or need help obtaining visitation or custody, rely on the experienced family law team at O’Mara Law Group. We can guide you toward a fair agreement or represent you in court.
Divorce and custody battles can strain relationships between children and their parents, grandparents, and other family members. The situation gets more complicated when grandparents seek visitation or temporary or permanent custody.
If you need help understanding grandparents’ rights in Florida or wish to seek visitation or custody, partner with the experienced family law attorneys at the O’Mara Law Group.
Do Grandparents Have Rights in Florida?
Laws regarding grandparents’ rights vary by state. All states limit the circumstances in which a court will grant visitation or custody to grandparents, but Florida is particularly strict. Like other jurisdictions, Florida law guides judges to do what is in the child’s best interests.
These interests can be challenging to determine, especially with young children who can’t express their wishes. Things become more complicated during contested divorces or when grandparents believe the parents are unfit to take care of their children.
Grandparents' Visitation Rights in Florida
In most cases, a custodial parent in Florida can deny visitation to grandparents. Under Florida Statute § 752.011, grandparents can seek visitation if:
Even under these conditions, grandparents must still show that visitation is in the child’s best interests.
Grandparents' Custody Rights in Florida
Grandparents can seek temporary, concurrent, or permanent custody of their grandchildren in Florida. However, as with visitation, the law is firmly on the side of custodial parents.
Parents may agree to give up child custody, either temporarily or permanently. However, a judge must approve any formal agreement. There is no guarantee that the judge will decide that grandparents are the best placement.
Gaining temporary or permanent custody is more challenging if one or both parents object. Under Florida Statute § 751.05, a judge will only grant temporary or permanent custody to extended family members after finding clear and convincing evidence that the parents are unfit. Judges base this decision on abuse, abandonment, or neglect as defined by Florida Statute § 39.806.
If you wish to gain temporary or permanent custody of your grandchild, you must overcome significant hurdles. The Florida child custody attorneys at the O’Mara Law Group have decades of combined experience helping grandparents do what is best for their families.
Getting Custody as Grandparents
You must petition the court for visitation or custody of your grandchildren in Florida. The court will then schedule a preliminary hearing before a judge so that the grandparents, parents, and a guardian ad litem—if a judge has assigned one to represent the child—can present their case. If parents object to visitation or custody, the judge will first determine if there is merit to the request to remove the child.
Following the hearing, the judge will likely order the parties to go to mediation. This step provides an opportunity to work together and develop a plan that offers the best outcome for the child.
If you cannot devise a plan, your case will move to a final hearing. The judge will consider several factors, including the parents’ fitness and your past and current relationship with your grandchild. The judge also will consider your ability to care for the child.
Visitation and custody arrangements work best for children when the adults are on the same page. A family law attorney can help you develop a visitation or custody plan that a judge will approve. They also will represent you in court if an agreement can’t be reached.
Who Pays Child Support if Grandparents Have Custody?
Grandparents with custody of children can petition for child support from both parents. When judges decide on support, the grandparents’ income is not a factor. Florida public policy is that children are supported primarily by their parents.
If you need financial assistance raising grandchildren, contact a child support lawyer. They can attempt to work out a reasonable agreement with the child’s parents before resorting to filing a formal petition.
Additional Options for Grandparents
Mediation and negotiation are good first steps for Florida grandparents who want visitation or custody. An adversarial court battle is a last resort.
You can start by working informally with the parent or parents to devise a plan you can all agree on. If you wish to formalize it, you need a judge’s approval.
It may be useful to involve a third party, such as a mediator. They can keep the discussion on track and advise all parties on what type of agreement is likely allowed under Florida law.
Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer To Assist With Visitation and Custody
At O’Mara Law Gropu, our skilled and experienced family law attorneys understand how to negotiate without resorting to threats and coercion. They have experience in divorce cases and helping families negotiate custody plans, child support, and other issues that are hard to handle alone.
A knowledgeable family lawyer from O’Mara Law understands what judges look for in determining visitation and custody. They can assist you in several ways, including the following:
Ultimately, what matters is the best outcome for your grandchild. A knowledgeable lawyer can work with you to get there.
Rely on an Orlando Family Attorney From the O'Mara Law Group
It’s difficult for grandparents to gain visitation or custody in Florida. Your best option is to work out an arrangement with the parents. If that’s not possible, you may have to petition the court.
Our compassionate family law attorneys at the O’Mara Law Group understand the complexity of custody cases. They also have the legal knowledge to help you navigate the complex Florida family court system.
Our attorneys have received recognition from several prestigious organizations and publications, including the following:
If you need assistance negotiating with family members to gain visitation or custody of your grandchildren or have decided to petition the court, work with the skilled team at the O’Mara Law Group. We are well versed in grandparents’ rights in Florida and will work tirelessly to develop a reasonable outcome that supports your family relationships and grandchild.
Contact an Attorney
If you are being denied the opportunity to see your grandchildren, contact the Orlando family law attorneys at O’Mara Law Group today. We will work to ensure that your rights are being respected and that you gain access to your grandchildren if at all possible.