Grandparents Rights? Unclear

- Gary E. Williams

Most would agree that a childhood in a stable home with close family and extended family relationships is a good way to start life. However, a stable home is out of reach for some children because of divorce or other family conflicts, death or other circumstances.

In Florida, grandparent rights are an emotional and highly debated issue. While the law can award grandparents reasonable visitation in some cases, appellate courts have ruled the right to grant visitation to grandparents or a step-grandparent is the private right of parents in an intact family.

Recognizing the best interests of a child is the governing standard, Florida courts at present are unlikely to order visitation over the objection of a parent. In May, a focused legislative effort, Senate Bill 384, failed to obtain visitation rights for grandparents whose children were deceased or missing.

Every child can use another good relationship. If you are a grandparent, consider the following points:

  • Litigation is an impossible way to build a relationship. If you can, privately work with your child or son- or daughter-in-law to gain or continue access to your grandchild.
  • Consider asking the parents of your grandchildren to engage in mediation to discuss a solution that works for everyone.
  • If your child is getting divorced, stay involved and apprised of how custody decisions can affect your ability to see your grandchildren.

No child can have too many good relationships. If you are interested in greater access to your grandchildren, seek help from a reputable family law attorney.