When Can Grandparents File For Visitation Or Custody Rights?

granddaughter and grandmother

Grandparents hold a special place in the family, and the grandparent/grandchild relationship can be a special one. However, in some families, relationships can get strained, and grandparents can be cut off from their grandchildren. In certain limited situations, a grandparent in Florida may be able to file for visitation or custody rights of their grandchild. If you have questions about grandparent visitation or custody, the knowledgeable family law attorneys at the Law Offices of David L. Hirschberg in Boca Raton are here to help. Call or contact our office today to schedule a consultation of your case.

Grandparent Visitation Rights

Article 1, Section 23 of the Florida Constitution provides that “every natural person has the right to be left alone and free from government intrusion into his/her private life.”  Based upon this Constitutional Right, the Florida Supreme Court has determined that except in cases where the child is threatened with harm, the state may not intrude upon the parents’ fundamental right to raise their children.”  Thus, just because both parents, or one of them, have cut off contact completely between the child and the grandparent does not justify or merit a grandparent seeking timesharing in the State of Florida.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, grandparents may be able to file for visitation rights with their grandchild if the parents have cut off contact completely between them and the child, the child has been removed from the parent’s custody, and it is in the child’s best interests to have visitation with their grandparents. This typically occurs if the child is placed in foster care or with another member of the family because of the parent’s abuse or neglect of the child.  It is important to note that it is not enough that parents cut off contact between a grandparent and grandchild. The court recognizes the right of parents to determine whether a grandchild has contact with a grandparent so long as it does not violate their best interests. The grandchild must be removed from the parent’s home and no longer subject to their decision making in order to file a petition for visitation rights.

Grandparent Custody Rights

In certain circumstances, grandparents may also take the step of filing for custody of their grandchildren. Florida law recognizes that grandparents may file for custody only in extremely limited circumstances given the fundamental rights of the parents. However, a judge may allow grandparents custody if they find that it is in the child’s best interests because the parent or parents are deemed unfit to raise the child or the parent or parents pose a danger to the child’s wellbeing. Examples of when a grandparent may be able to file for custody of their grandchild include the following:

  • Incarceration of parent(s)
  • Substance abuse issues
  • Parental history of domestic violence against the child
  • Parental history of sexual violence against the child
  • Mental illness issues
  • Abandonment of the child
  • Substantial neglect of the child

Finally, under extremely limited circumstances, a grandparent may even be able to file for temporary custody of a minor child.

To learn more about when a grandparent may be able to file for visitation or custody of a grandchild, talk to an experienced family lawyer today.

Talk to Our Office Now

At the Law Offices of David L. Hirschberg in Boca Raton, we understand how important it is to be a part of your grandchild’s life. If you have questions about filing for visitation or custody of your grandchild, call the office or contact us today to schedule an evaluation of your case with one of our knowledgeable Boca Raton family law attorneys now.



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