Can Grandparents Fight for Visitation Time in Florida?
Family units are complex. When a couple gets a divorce and children are involved, parenting issues, including who the children will reside with, becomes an issue. Unfortunately, these disputes are not always limited to the parents. Sometimes, one or both parents will forbid grandparents from seeing the children, and this is often a devastating situation for the grandparents. If you are a grandparent that has been denied visitation with your grandchildren, it is important to understand what the law says about your rights.
Visitation Rights for Grandparents
It is not uncommon for one or both parents to allow grandparents some visitation time, but the grandparents still want more. In this case, sadly, there is nothing grandparents can do. As long as the grandparents are receiving some time to visit with their grandchildren, they cannot petition the court to request more.
However, if the grandparents are not receiving any visitation time with their grandchildren, they may be able to request court-ordered visitation from a family judge. Even in this situation, requesting visitation time is only a viable option if the parents are alive and have legal or physical custody of their children. It is only when the parents are not part of the child’s life that grandparents can seek visitation rights.
The Best Interests of the Child
Just as when parents are seeking child custody or visitation rights, the court will analyze what is in the best interests of the child when grandparents are making such a request. The best interests of the child are based on several factors in these cases, including:
- The length and quality of the relationship between the grandparents and the child prior to requesting visitation,
- The willingness of the grandparents to foster a healthy relationship between the child and the parents,
- The child’s preference, when the child is of an appropriate age and maturity,
- The mental and physical health of the child, and
- The mental and physical health of the grandparents
Florida law will not override the rights of the parents when awarding visitation. The only exception to this is if the child will experience harm as a result of not seeing their grandparents.
Adopting a Grandchild in Florida
It is highly unusual for family courts to allow grandparents to adopt their grandchildren. The only time this is a possibility is when the parents pose a real threat to the child, or when both parents have lost their parental rights. In the event that neither parent has the right to custody of the child, however, grandparents are given top priority for adoption, as long as the adoption is in the best interests of the child.
Our Family Lawyers in Florida Can Help with Grandparent Adoptions
It is very rare for the courts to give grandparents child custody rights, or allow them to adopt their grandchildren. This still does not mean that is impossible or that it never happens. If you believe your grandchild is being harmed, or their parents are no longer in their life and you wish to adopt, contact our Orlando family lawyers at O’Mara Law Group today. Our skilled attorneys can advise on your case, and the legal options available to you. Call us today at (407) 634-6604 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation.