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Bill would expand grandparents’ right to seek visitation

For grandparents, the ability to spend time with grandchildren is one of the most important things in life. Unfortunately, complications in relationships can sometimes result in grandparents losing the ability to be with grandchildren. Here in Florida, there are certain situations in which grandparents have the ability to petition for visitation, but not every possible scenario is covered.

Under current law, a grandparent is able to petition for visitation rights of a minor child when it is in the best interests of the child and the child’s parents are divorced, a parent has deserted the child, or the child was born out of wedlock. This leaves out situations where a parent goes missing, as in the case of Michelle Parker, who disappeared in 2011. As a result of her disappearance, the children’s father took full custody and moved out of state, which prevented the grandparents from seeing their grandchildren. 

The story is obviously a sad one, and attracted the attention of lawmakers, who have passed a bill which is set to be signed at the beginning of July. When it becomes law, the bill will allow grandparents who have a missing or deceased child to petition a court for the visitation rights.

Having the ability to seek out visitation rights does not automatically mean, though, that grandparents will be granted these rights. It must be determined that such visitation would be in the best interests of the children. Best interest determinations can become convoluted, and it is important for anybody involved in such a dispute to work with an experienced attorney to ensure their interests receive the best possible advocacy.

Source: The 2014 Florida Statutes, “Chapter 752: Grandparental Visitation Rights,” Accessed May 7, 2015.

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