Fort Lauderdale Grandparents Rights Attorney
What Rights Do I Have to See My Grandchildren?
Under a Florida law that became effective in 2015, grandparents are entitled to petition the court for visitation with their grandchildren in certain limited circumstances. While it is possible for grandparents to get court-ordered visitation, it can be an uphill battle. Grandparents can only ask for visitation in certain situations, and must provide evidence that justifies a court order for visitation. Still, with the assistance of a skilled Florida family law attorney, you can determine whether you are eligible to seek grandparent visitation in your particular case.
Requirements to Petition for Grandparent Visitation
One way to qualify to petition for grandparent visitation under Florida law is if you are the grandparent of a child whose parents are deceased, missing, or in a permanent vegetative state. You also are eligible to seek court-ordered grandparent visitation if your grandchild has one parent who is deceased, missing, or in a vegetative state, and whose other parent has been convicted of a felony or another offense involving violence that poses a substantial threat of harm to the health or welfare of the minor child. In other words, before you can proceed with a visitation petition, you must make a preliminary showing the child’s parent is unfit or poses significant harm to the child. If you cannot provide evidence in this regard, the court can dismiss your petition and order you to pay the parent’s reasonable attorney fees and costs.
Proceeding With a Florida Grandparent Visitation Petition
If you prove that the child’s parent is unfit or poses harm to the child, then the court can appoint a guardian ad litem for the child, which is a neutral third party who helps the court determine the best interest of the child. The court also will refer the case to family mediation for resolution. However, if the parties are still unable to resolve the visitation dispute, the court will hold a hearing. At that hearing, you must prove by clear and convincing evidence that not only is the parent unfit or harmful to the child in some way, but that visitation is in the best interest of the child and that it would not harm the parent-child relationship.
When Your Grandchild is a Dependent
There is another circumstance under Florida law that may entitle you to visitation with your grandchild. If a court has adjudicated the child to be a dependent under Florida law and has removed the child from the parents’ physical custody, then the grandparents often are entitled to visitation. Unless a court finds that reasonable visitation would not be in the best interest of the child, or that it would interfere with the goals of the case plan, then you are entitled to frequent, continuing, and unsupervised in your home. Furthermore, even if the court ultimately terminates the parental rights of the child’s parent or parents, the grandparents’ visitation rights are unaffected.
Call a Fort Lauderdale Grandparents Rights Attorney for Assistance Today
At Vanessa L. Prieto Law Offices, LLC, we know how complex and emotional grandparent rights cases can be for all parties involved. Accordingly, you need the legal advice and support that the well-established lawyers at our law firm can offer. We pride ourselves on our ability to apply the facts of your situation to the law in a manner that is most beneficial to you, and develop a strategy for handling your case that will further your interests with respect to your grandchildren to the greatest degree possible. Consult a Fort Lauderdale grandparent rights attorney today, and find out how we can assist you with your case.