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Florida's stance on grandparents' rights

Grandparents' rights have become an increasingly discussed aspect of child custody across Florida and the rest of the country in recent years. Many grandparents erroneously believe that they are entitled to visitation with their grandchildren no matter what, but in fact, how much consideration is given to grandparents depends largely on the particular set of circumstances and the state's laws.

Florida has recently taken a step toward having legislation on the books that would dictate how grandparents' rights are handled. House Bill 149 introduced into the 2015 Legislature seeks to outline the specific circumstances under which a grandparent can petition the courts for court-ordered visitation, which can also often lead to custody petitions as well.

The bill states that in order for a grandparent to have grounds for a court petition for visitation rights, the grandparent must show that the parent is either not present or poses a "substantial threat" to the child. This would allow the grandparent to petition for visitation if the child's parent is deceased, declared missing or in a vegetative state. If a parent has a felony conviction or a violent criminal record and also poses a current threat to the child, the courts may award grandparent visitation.

While it is normally in the interests of the child to have a positive relationship with as many loving family members as possible, the courts also recognize the parents' rights to socialize their children as they wish. This means that it can be very difficult for grandparents to be granted visitation if both parents are present and stable in the child's life. However, it may still be possible, and a family law attorney can go through the details or your case and tell you more.

Source: Florida House of Representatives, "HB 149," accessed June 02, 2015

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