Understanding Grandparent Rights in Florida
Once upon a time, Florida had a statute that gave grandparents visitation rights to a child in the event that the child’s parents passed away. However, the Supreme Court of Florida eventually did away with that law, saying that a parent has a right to raise his or her child as they see fit, without the interference of the child’s grandparents. While grandparents do not have nearly as many rights as they once did in Florida, there is still language within Florida’s statutes that allows for grandparents’ rights to visitation and even custody. However, gaining rights to a grandchild is not easy, and requires extenuating circumstances to occur before a judge will even consider taking away full or partial rights from the child’s legal parents or guardians.
Florida Statutes that Advocate for Grandparents’ Rights
There are two Florida statutes that protect and even encourage a grandparent’s rights to visitation or custody of their grandchild: Florida Statute 751 and Florida Statute 752.
Florida Statute 751 deals directly with temporary custody of minor children by extended family members—which include grandparents. The purpose of this statute is to provide temporary or concurrent custody of a minor child to an extended family member of one of the child’s parents so that the temporary custodian may:
- Consent to all necessary and reasonable medical and dental procedures for the child;
- Secure copies of the child’s records, including but not limited to:
- The child’s medical records;
- The child’s dental records;
- The child’s birth certificate;
- The child’s educational records; and
- Any other records necessary to perform typical parental obligations such as enroll the child in school, sign the child up for sports teams, or take the child to see his or her primary caregiver;
- Enroll the child in school;
- Grant or withhold consent to have the child tested or placed within a special program, including an exceptional education program; and
- Perform all the other parental obligations necessary to ensure a fulfilling and normal childhood for the child.
Florida Statute 752.011 deals directly with grandparent visitation rights, and serves to ensure that in the event that one or both parents pass away, go missing, fall into a persistent vegetative state – or in the event that one parent passes away, goes missing, or falls into a persistent vegetative state and the other has been convicted of a felony or a violent offense that poses harm to the minor child’s health or welfare – the grandparents can petition the Florida family courts to seek visitation and/or custody rights of the child.
The ultimate purpose of both statutes is to ensure that in the event that one or both of the child’s parents or legal guardians are incapable, unable, or unfit to take care of the child for whatever reason, a grandparent can step up and claim full or partial custody. This keeps the children from going into the state’s child care system, as well as ensures that they remain with family.
Consult with a Boca Raton Child Custody Lawyer
At the Law Offices of Schwartz | White, we believe in keeping children within family as much as possible. If you are a grandparent, and if your grandchildren’s parents are unfit or incapable of taking care of their children for whatever reason, contact our family law firm right away to learn more about your legal rights. Though it may be difficult to petition for custody—especially if you hope to take custody away from one or both parents—with an experienced Boca Raton child custody lawyer on your side, it can be done. To see what the process will entail and what you will need to do to obtain custody of your grandchild, contact our family law firm at 561-391-9943 today.