Grandparent’s Rights in Florida

Sat, Nov 9, 2013

Elder Law

Some rights reserved by Dark DwarfGrandma and Grandpa are often important parts of children’s lives. Sometimes they are even the primary caregivers. However, official arrangements are required to allow them specific rights with their grandchildren in Florida. This is especially true if the parents do not willingly grant them, but this will make the rights even more challenging to get.

Informal arrangements with grandparents for care or visitation often work fine until something sets off a disagreement, a separation happens, a move happens, a divorce happens, a death happens, remarriage happens, or even jail happens. Grandparents might take it for granted that they would continue to see their grandchildren as before or care for them as before. However, this is not always guaranteed. Thus, legally binding arrangements are key to create peace of mind and make care arrangements easier.

This link to About.com contains a myriad of information about grandparent’s rights for all states. You will see that each state handles grandparent’s rights a little bit differently. In addition, grandparent’s rights get even more challenging when the children live in a different state than the grandparents. Thus, it is best to create legal arrangements that would allow grandparents to have certain rights to their grandchildren if they are necessary for the child’s best interests.

This would be certainly important in the case of death when the grandparents are the ones the parents want to assume care of the children. Wills need to be as specific as possible in detailing what will become of children with the unfortunate passing of their parents. This includes physical arrangements for their care, as well as financial arrangements. The will is also important for beginning the process of assuming care for the children, as specific paperwork would need to be created for the grandparents to enroll children in school or get them medical care.

In addition, temporary situations like enlisting in the military, being deployed, going off to school, living in a different country, becoming incarcerated, or even attending a short stint at rehab would require specific paperwork for grandparents to properly care for their grandchildren if the grandchildren are left with them.

All of this particular paperwork is especially important in Florida. This is because Florida has laws governing grandparent’s rights, but they are not as friendly as some states. In addition, it is important that everyone that might assume care for a child have the proper paperwork to lawfully do so.

Visitation rights of grandparents are a hot topic. Florida has had strict rules about grandparent’s rights for a long time. For more information about Florida’s rules, this link on About.com provides background. Specifically, privacy rights are at issue and many court cases have supported that grandparents’ rights might invade a family’s right to privacy.

However, this is not to say that all is lost for grandparents. If a child is in danger or the situation is truly not in the best interest of a child, the grandparents do have the ability to try and fight for custody or the ability to control some decisions. However, this can be just as challenging or even more challenging than a traditional custody case. Someone in this situation might try to find an attorney specializing in grandparent’s rights. If that is not possible, discussing the situation with a family law attorney or elder law attorney is also another great idea. Mediation might also be helpful in this situation.

Attorney Christopher D. Smith is a Lakewood Ranch, Florida attorney with SmithLaw Attorneys. He concentrates in bankruptcy, civil litigation, probate, and elder exploitation cases in the Sarasota and Bradenton area. Call 941-907-4774 to learn more and to ask about our free consultations.

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