Although custody disputes are relatively common during a divorce, aside from the parents, there are others with a high stake in the outcome of the custody case. These are the grandparents, who may have been an integral part of their grandchildren’s lives up until the divorce, then suddenly find themselves ruthlessly cut out. In our current society many families rely heavily on grandparents to step in and take on childcare tasks when both parents work, making it doubly hard for grandparents who may have seen their grandchildren almost every day then suddenly have no access to them at all due to a bitter divorce.
In fact, research has shown that almost half of all grandparents are no longer allowed to see their beloved grandchildren following the divorce of their child. If you are a grandparent who finds yourself in this position, depending on the circumstances it could be beneficial to speak to an experienced attorney from The Law Place. We will assess your case thoroughly, determining whether you have a valid case to present to a Florida judge.
Should Grandparents Be Considered in Custody Issues?
Many custody cases are already contentious; if the state allowed grandparents into that mix, custody cases could potentially drag on for years. If two adults find it impossible to agree on the best interests of their children, imagine how six adults would manage. Further, from a purely logistical point of view, just how many ways can children’s time be split? Between school, extra-curricular activities, friends, and now the necessity of dividing their time between two homes instead of one, splitting that time further is simply not always feasible. Even so, grandparents should not be cut out of their grandchildren’s lives when they have formerly enjoyed a close, loving relationship.
Where Florida Stands on Grandparent Visitation
Ironically, although Florida is home to more grandparents than most other states, it also has the distinction of being among the most restrictive states regarding grandparent visitation. The state of Florida aggressively protects the privacy of its residents, and appeals for visitation rights from grandparents are considered an assault on the rights of the parent’s privacy. In a 1996 case (Beagle v. Beagle) a Florida court ruled the state was not allowed to intervene in awarding grandparent visitation when the parents are not in agreement—unless the children would be harmed by the lack of that visitation.
Do Grandparents Have Any Recourse?
The existing Florida statutes instruct the judge to consider a lengthy list of factors when attempting to determine the best interests of the children. In this instance, those best interests may be judged on the willingness of the grandparents to continue to encourage a close, loving relationship between the children and their parents. The prior relationship between the grandparents and the children will come into play, as well as the length of that relationship.
If the children are of sufficient age and maturity, the judge may take into consideration their preferences regarding grandparent visitation. Finally, the mental and physical health of the children and the grandparents as well as any other relevant factors will be taken into consideration. In order for a Florida court to grant visitation rights to grandparents in Florida, the court must believe it is in the best interests of the child or children and two of the following three conditions must be met as well:
• The parents of the child or children must be divorced.
• One parent must have deserted the child
• The child was born out of wedlock
As you can see, obtaining grandparent visitation rights in the state of Florida is difficult, to say the least. That being said, there are instances when a judge may grant visitation rights to grandparents. Keep in mind, that barring exceptional circumstances, even when grandparents prevail in a Sarasota court, they will be granted access rather than any type of custody. An attorney from The Law Place can be your greatest asset if you believe visitation will benefit your grandchildren’s lives.