and Lack Thereof...
In Florida, it is extremely difficult for grandparents to earn visitation or custody rights to care for their grandchildren. If a child has a competent parent — and competent can be defined loosely in the courts — then it is unlikely that a grandparent will be able to successfully claim rights.
Yet we can help. The foremost consideration in family court matters regarding children is to show that an activity is in the child's best interest. Practicing in Jacksonville and throughout northeastern Florida, Beth M. Terry has assisted grandparents and other family members in their efforts to obtain visitation and custody rights.
Divorce Can Be Hard On Grandparents
Florida law stipulates that a grandparent can petition for visitation rights if the child's parents are "deceased, missing, or in a persistent vegetative state," or if one parent is deceased and the other "has been convicted of a felony or an offense of violence."
This is an uncommon scenario, and offers no protection to grandparents in the event of divorce. For instance, if the custodial parent chooses not to allow his or her former in-laws to visit with the child, that is within the parent's legal rights.
Nevertheless, successful petitions can be filed if grandparents demonstrate their relationship with the child is in the child's best interests. The courts consider a list of criteria, including whether the lack of a grandparental relationship is to the child's physical or emotional detriment. If grandparents can accumulate evidence demonstrating the importance of their role in the child's life, visitation rights can at times be secured.
In addition, there may be other avenues for grandparent or extended relatives to obtain temporary custody of children if the parents are unfit to care for them.