Protecting Your Rights As A Grandparent
It is stressful watching from the sidelines as your married, adult children go through a divorce or other problems that disrupt their marriage or family life. It is even more painful when there are grandchildren you love involved. It is natural to have concerns about the effects these problems can have on little ones, but there may be little you can actually do to prevent or avoid the situation. Grandparents’ rights are recognized in some instances by the Florida courts, and there are actions you can take on your own to protect your rights while ensuring you remain part of your grandchildren’s lives.
Grandparents’ Rights In Florida
Grandparents play an important role in families, and family dramas or divorce should not get in the way of the valuable contributions they make. States across the country vary in how they view grandparents’ rights in divorce cases. In Florida, grandparents may be awarded visitation, but only in specific, limited situations.
Under Section 752.01-02 of the Florida Statutes, grandparents and even great grandparents have the right to petition the court for visitation with minor children under the following circumstances:
- If one or both of the parents is missing or has deserted the family;
- If one or both of the parents are deceased or in a persistent, vegetative state;
- If one or both of the parents pose a significant threat of harm to the child’s health and welfare.
In these situations, the court’s top priority is always the best interests of the child. In assessing whether grandparent visitation should be ordered, judges consider the length and quality of the existing relationship, the love and emotional ties between the child and the grandparent, and whether the grandparent adds to the child’s feelings of stability and support.
Common Pitfalls In Grandparenting
Unfortunately, there is little the court can do if adult children refuse or discourage grandparents from visiting without any of the above factors involved. Mediation may be an option in some cases. There are certain actions grandparents can take to protect their rights without going to court, which can avoid ruffling their own children’s feathers. The American Association of Retired People (AARP) recommends the following dos and don’ts:
- DO NOT try to tell your children how to raise your grandchildren or judge their parenting style.
- DO set limits for grandchildren during visits, reinforcing the rules parents have laid down.
- DO NOT compete with or bad mouth the parents, any new romantic partners they have, or the other set of grandparents.
- DO focus on the fact that the more loving adults there are in a child’s life, the better off they will be.
Children Come First
At the law offices of Vanessa L. Prieto, we believe, like you, that the needs of children out to come first. If you are a grandparent who has concerns about your grandchildren’s safety or are being denied visitation, call or contact our Florida family law attorney online today. We can arrange a free consultation in our Fort Lauderdale office to discuss the options which may be available.