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Grandparents Rights

Posted by attorney Jordan Gerber

When it comes to timesharing, formerly referred to as visitation, family members (furry or not) are out of luck. Just as Florida family courts refuse to recognize “custody" arrangements for the family pet, there are no grandparent rights in Florida for contact with their grandchildren. Grandparents legal rights, per se, are now obsolete. The court found that (the now abrogated) section of Florida Statute 61.13, which granted grandparents with whom the child was living with standing to seek custody, to be facially unconstitutional because it violated the natural parent’s fundamental right to privacy to rear his or her child.

The court further decided that this constitutional privacy right is not considered waived if a natural parent enters into a visitation agreement with the child’s grandparent. This means that the parent can revoke the agreement to such visitation at any time, even if had previously been incorporated into an agreed order, as the parent has a privacy right to raise his or her child without government intrusion absent a demonstration of harm to the child. The “best interests of the child" argument was countered when a trial court’s orders were designed to facilitate grandparent visitation over a parent’s objections, despite the lack of any allegations of wrongdoing, which the 4th DCA ruled to be unlawful as it is up to the parent to decide what is in the best interest of his or her child.

**It is important to note that if any circumstances present themselves that question the safety of the minor child, any concerned party may seek the initiation of proceedings to protect the well-being of the child through dependency proceedings under Florida Statutes Chapter 39.

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