I Am a Grandparent. What are my Rights to my Grandchildren?
As a grandparent, you probably cherish the relationships you have with your grandchildren. When an issue like your child’s divorce, death, or court involvement with your grandchildren’s lives threatens to sever this bond, it is important that you understand your rights as a grandparent and how to legally exercise them. Many people do not realize that grandparents do have rights to their grandchildren, such as the right to visitation with them and the right to adopt them in the event their parents’ rights are terminated. These rights also apply to great-grandparents.
Your Visitation Rights Depend on your Grandchildren’s Circumstances
Currently, a grandparent can petition for visitation with his or her grandchild if the following circumstances apply:
- Both of the child’s parents are missing, deceased, or in a vegetative state; or
- One of the child’s parents is missing, deceased, or in a vegetative state and the child’s other parent has been convicted of a felony or a violent offense that poses a threat to the child’s safety or well being.
If neither of the above circumstances apply, you cannot petition for visitation rights with your grandchild. If one of the above circumstances applies, you do not automatically have visitation or custody of your grandchild. You must first attend a hearing to determine whether the child’s parent or parents are unfit. If this is determined, a second hearing is scheduled to determine whether visitation is in the child’s best interest. Numerous factors are considered when making this determination, including whether visitation between the child and his or her grandparent would harm the child’s relationship with his or her parents.
Advocating for yourself and your Rights
Your lawyer can help you initially determine if you have grounds to petition for visitation rights with your grandchild and if you do choose to file one, he or she can help you demonstrate to the court why such an arrangement is in your grandchild’s best interest. Your strategy may involve showing the court how a disruption to your current relationship with your grandchild would cause him or her to suffer emotional or physical harm, that you are in good health and that you are physically capable of caring for a child, the relationship you currently have with your grandchild and its support by your grandchild’s parent, and/or whether you had an established relationship with your grandchild prior to filing a petition for visitation rights to him or her.
Work with an Experienced Winter Park Grandparents’ Rights Lawyer
As a grandparent in Florida, you have certain rights to your grandchildren. If you feel you are being unfairly shut out of your grandchildren’s lives, consider taking legal action to assert your rights to visitation with them. Contact Sperling Ducker today to set up your initial consultation with an experienced Florida grandparents’ rights lawyer. During your consultation, we will examine the unique circumstances you are facing and help you determine the right legal strategy for asserting your rights.