The process of divorce complicates many family relationships, including the connection between children and their grandparents. The state of Florida currently does not have extensive laws allowing for grandparents’ visitation privileges, but the Sun Sentinel explains that a recent law has granted limited rights to grandparents in certain situations. However, more could be done to protect the relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren during the turbulent time of divorce.
According to the Florida Statutes, grandparents may request visitation rights in very specific circumstances. If both parents have died, or if one parent is deemed unsafe for the child and the other parent is missing, deceased or unable to function, grandparents may be able to obtain rights to see their grandchildren. Currently, those are virtually the only situations in which grandparents may petition for visitation rights.
In those circumstances, it must be proven that the child’s relationship with the parent is harmful or insufficient in some way to meet the child’s needs. Additionally, grandparents must offer proof of a previous healthy relationship between themselves and the child. A healthy relationship should have included regular contact between grandparent and child before the change in life circumstances.
Another factor in granting grandparents’ rights is considering how the child’s relationship with the parent will be affected. Evidence of previous conflict between the grandparent and parent may be detrimental to the cause if it shows that visitation rights may result in more upheaval for the child. The courts will also consider the parent’s previous objections to allowing visitation. As with every decision regarding minor children in divorce situations, the absolute priority is to pursue the best interests of the child.