There are particular situations wherein a child cannot be provided with a safe and nurturing environment at home, with his or her parents. Sometimes the reasons may include drugs, criminal activity, domestic violence, or alcohol abuse. These problems may arise or become more prevalent after a divorce or child custody dispute. As a grandparent, you want the best for your grandchildren. What if you are the closest relative who can properly raise your grandchildren?
Whether you are seeking temporary or permanent custody of your grandchildren or are seeking visitation rights, an experienced South Florida grandparents’ rights attorney at Orner Law, LLC may be able to help you. Although grandparents’ rights are not a commonly addressed issue in Florida’s family law courts, we believe it is important that these matters are addressed immediately. We work tirelessly to protect our clients’ rights as grandparents. At Orner Law, LLC, we assist clients throughout South Florida.
ABOUT GRANDPARENTS’ RIGHTS
The laws regarding grandparents’ right to time sharing (which is how Florida law now refers to “visitation”) and custody rights vary greatly from state to state. Florida has a statute that purports to give grandparents (and great grandparents, who are treated the same for this purpose) the right to initiate a court action to force a grandchild’s parents to allow reasonable visitation, if the parents are divorced, a parent has deserted the child or the child was born out of wedlock
However, in a series of decisions beginning in the late 1990s, the Florida Supreme Court has declared unconstitutional several portions of the current and prior Florida statutes governing grandparent visitation, based principally on concerns regarding the privacy rights of the parents. The net result of these decisions has been to reduce or call into question the ability of the courts to compel unwilling parents to allow their parents visitation rights and thereby create uncertainty as to whether such rights can still be granted under anything other than extraordinary circumstances.
Grandparents seeking custody of a grandchild have an even heavier burden of proof. They must not only show that the parents are unfit, but must also demonstrate that they have, in effect, acted as the child’s parents. Without legal custody, a grandparent’s ability to make decisions concerning the child’s upbringing are limited, though such “caretaker” grandparents may in some cases have the ability to enroll a child in school or seek medical attention.
THE IMPORTANCE OF EXPERIENCED LEGAL REPRESENTATION
A child’s relationship with his or her grandparent can often be among the most important and influential in a child’s life. Unfortunately, there are cases in which events such as divorce, the death or disability of a parent or the parents’ can disrupt or even terminate that relationship.
Because Florida law currently gives grandparents only limited rights to compel visitation over the parents’ objection, cases in which a grandparent wishes to have regular contact with a grandchild are often difficult and complex. The likelihood that a particular legal strategy will succeed will vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances. Some of the following among other unusual circumstances that may persuade a judge to overrule a parent’s opposition are the death of one or both parents, a history of domestic violence or abuse, or other issues that create an unsafe home environment.
An experienced family law lawyer can advise you as to the best course of action and represent your rights as a grandparent in family court and help you seek temporary custody so your grandchildren are safe.
At Orner Law, LLC, we believe that a child’s relationship with his or her grandparents is important and should be protected. If you are a grandparent who wishes to pursue a visitation or custody action, we would be pleased to help you.
With offices in Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale, Orner Law, LLC serves clients throughout South Florida.
Contact a South Florida grandparents’ rights lawyer for an initial consultation.