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Can Grandparents Obtain Visitation in Florida?

Tampa family and child custody attorneys in Florida

Families are not always happy, loving units. Disputes can arise, particularly when a married couple gets divorced and child custody is an issue. While parents are always involved in these disputes, grandparents sometimes are, as well. After a divorce, one or both parents may prohibit grandparents from seeing a child, which is devastating for grandparents. Many people often wonder if they can take the matter to court and obtain visitation with their grandchild. Below, one of our Tampa child custody attorneys explains.  The law governing grandparent visitation can be found at Florida Statute 752.001.

Grandparents and Visitation Rights in Florida 

Sometimes, one or both parents will allow their child to visit with the grandparents, but the grandparents do not think they are spending enough time with the child. Sadly, in these cases, there is little the grandparents can do. Grandparents cannot petition the court for additional visitation time when they are already seeing the child.

Florida State law presumes that parents have the right to determine who their child spends time with and so, as long as even just one parent has physical or legal custody, the courts will not overrule their objections to grandparent visitation.

Grandparents can petition a family court for visitation only under the following circumstances:

  • Both parents are deceased, are in a vegetative state, missing or are otherwise no longer a part of the child’s life, or
  • One parent is deceased, missing, is in a vegetative state or is otherwise no longer a part of the child’s life AND the other parent has been convicted of a felony or an offense of violence showing by clear and convincing evidence that his or her behavior poses a substantial threat of harm to the minor child’s health or welfare.
Upon the filing of a petition by a grandparent for visitation, the court shall hold a preliminary hearing to determine whether the petitioner has made a prima facie showing of parental unfitness or significant harm to the child. Absent such a showing, the court will dismiss the petition and may award reasonable attorney fees and costs to be paid by the petitioner to the respondent.
Furthermore, if the court finds that there is prima facie evidence that a parent is unfit or that there is or will be significant harm to the child, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem and will refer the matter to family mediation as provided in s. 752.015. If family mediation does not successfully resolve the issue of grandparent visitation, the court shall proceed with a final hearing.
After conducting a final hearing on the issue of visitation, the court may award reasonable visitation to the grandparent with respect to the minor child if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that a parent is unfit or that there is significant harm to the child, that visitation is in the best interest of the minor child, and that the visitation will not materially harm the parent-child relationship.
In addition, if the circumstances allow a grandparent to file an action requesting visitation and the grandparent’s case is dismissed, the grandparent may only file once during any 2-year period.  Also, if the grandparent is granted visitation, it can be terminated by the parent(s) upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances.

Visitation and the Best Interests of the Child 

If the circumstances allow a grandparent to file an action for visitation, the Court will look at the best interests of the child standard, which is the same standard it would use if it were the child’s parents petitioning. There are several factors a judge will consider that are in the best interests of the child and these are as follows:

  • The quality and length of the relationship between the child and the grandparents prior to the visitation request,
  • Whether the grandparents are willing to nurture a healthy relationship between the child and the parents if there is ever an opportunity to do so,
  • The child’s preference, depending on their age and maturity,
  • The physical and mental health of the grandparents, and
  • The physical and mental health of the child.

When awarding visitation, the law will not override parental rights. There is only one exception to this and that is when denying grandparent visitation will cause a child harm.  The law in Florida recognizes that the relationship between a parent (or adoptive parent) and a child is more important and overrides any interest grandparents may have in seeing and developing a relationship with their grandchildren.

Contact our Child Custody & Visitation Attorneys in Tampa For Advice on Grandparent Visitation

As a grandparent, it is very difficult to get visitation of your grandchild. At All Family Law Group, P.A., our Tampa child custody attorneys can provide the legal advice you need and develop a strategy that will give you the best chance of success, if the circumstances allow it. Call us now at 813-672-1900 or contact us online to request a free consultation of your case.  Se habla Español.




All Family Law Group, P.A.
The law firm of All Family Law Group, P.A. provides legal services to the Florida cities including Tampa, Clearwater, Brandon, Riverview, Hyde Park, South Tampa, Ybor City, Northdale, Valrico, Gibsonton, Lithia, Mango, Palm River, Plant City, Seffner, Sun City Center, Wimauma, Apollo Beach, Ruskin, Temple Terrace, Carrollwood, Northdale, Westchase, Citrus Park, Town N Country, Thonotosassa, Lutz, Fish Hawk, New Tampa, St. Petersburg, Palm Harbor, MacDill Air Force Base and all of Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco Counties. We will also represent DIVORCE clients in Polk, Hernando or Manatee Counties.

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