The Florida family courts contend that, in all child custody decisions, the best interests of a child are paramount. This assertion, however, is one with which many grandparents who have been denied access to a grandchild would likely take issue.
When most Floridians think about child custody disputes, cases in which parents are going through a divorce or were never married likely spring to mind. In these types of cases, grandparents have no rights to petition for visitation. The same holds true in cases where one parent is deceased or missing as the remaining parent is granted sole physical and legal custody and given full control over who can and cannot have access to a grandchild.
The visitation rights of grandparents may soon change provided the Florida bill known as CS/HB 149: Rights of Grandparents, becomes law. Under the grandparent’s rights bill, grandparents would be allowed to petition for visitation rights in cases where "their son or daughter was killed, in a vegetative state or ... missing."
For many children, the relationship and bond with a grandparent is close and special. In cases where a child effectively loses a parent, it seems especially cruel to also take away his or her right to see and spend time with a beloved grandparent.
Florida grandparents who have questions and concerns about a grandchild's wellbeing and who want to obtain visitation rights would be wise to contact an attorney who handles family law and child custody matters. If this most current bill passes and becomes law, an attorney can assist in helping grandparents petition for visitation rights and gain legal access to a grandchild.
Source: News 13, "'Grandparents rights' bill draws Florida lawmakers' support," Jeff Allen, March 19, 2015