Grandparents' Rights in Jacksonville, FL
Counsel from a Jacksonville Family Law Attorney
As a grandparent, it can be difficult to have your voice heard during your child's divorce. For grandparents seeking visitation rights, it is important to obtain the advice of a lawyer before making a decision as to whether to proceed with a petition or not. There have been recent modifications regarding grandparent visitation by the Florida Supreme Court. It has been decided that a healthy and well-maintained family has the right to bar grandparent visitation if they wish. That is why it is so important you retain counsel throughout this challenging and complex time.
Reach out to a Jacksonville family law attorney from Charles E. Willmott, P.A. today!
Factors the Courts Consider
There are existing statutes regarding visitation rights for grandparents that instruct the courts to consider a long list of factors so that the best interests of the child are protected.
These factors include:
- Willingness of grandparents to encourage a relationship between child and parent
- Length and quality of prior relationship between the grandchild and grandparent
- Child's wishes regarding the situation if the child is old enough to have a preference
- Mental and physical health of the child and grandparents
These determinations were set in place to make sure that the child's best interests are made first priority. At Charles E. Willmott, P.A., I desire to rebuild family relationships so that each affected member of the situation can move on with their life and the family can remain as close as possible.
What are my rights?
In the state of Florida, grandparents don't generally have rights over the natural parents. This means that if something were to happen to their son or daughter and the natural parent won't let them see the child, the Florida courts don't offer much sympathy to the grandparents. However, depending upon who has custody of the child, there are cases where valid concerns regarding the parents' ability to properly care for the child lead to visitation or custody rights.
Some reasons why a grandparent may be given more rights include:
- One or both parents are arrested
- The child is a victim of severe child abuse
- The child is out of school and being neglected
- The child is living in a house with illegal drugs all over the place
These are all situations where the state may want to remove the child from his or her parents' care. In these types of cases, the court may elect to place the child in the grandparents' care if the grandparents are willing and able to.
Juvenile Dependency Court
Whenever there is a concern that a child is in immediate danger of being abused, abandoned or otherwise neglected, the case is heard in Juvenile Dependency Court. This court is dedicated to ensuring that children are safe and protected, and it is focused on helping families directly with the issues that brought them to court to begin with. Dependency Court is not about penalizing parents and prosecuting them, it's about finding workable solutions for the family.
When a case goes to Juvenile Dependency Court, it can take one of four courses, including:
- If the state believes that returning the child to their parents would be safe, then the child may be returned to their parents, and with the possibility of services in the parents' home.
- If there is a hearing, then both sides will have the opportunity to explain their side of the story before the judge. If the Judge doesn't believe the state presented enough evidence to have the child cared for outside of the home, then the child will be returned to their parents and under their care.
- If the child's parent decides they would benefit from services, or if the court believes that the parent needs services before the child can be safely returned home, then the parent will have to work on a "case plan" that will be created with the goal of returning the child once the home is safe and stable. Ideally, the parents will work on their case plan, complete all the necessary steps and be reunited with their children.
- Finally, there are dangerous situations in some cases, and when the parent refuses to work on a case plan or when they fail to complete their case plan, then the parents may lose their parental rights and the child may be placed for adoption, or alternatively, another family member or their grandparents may seek custody.
Work With A Jacksonville Child Custody Lawyer
When it comes to matters involving custody, grandparents do have certain rights. These include the right to petition the court for visitation or even full custody of the child. As a grandparent, you have a right to petition for custody in situations of
divorce, death of the child's parents, incarceration of child's parents, unfit parents, and a grandchild's delinquent status. As a grandparent, it is important to know and understand your rights. It is my desire to help you understand them better and to make sure they are upheld.
Do not hesitate to call my firm's Jacksonville divorce lawyers for assistance if you feel the need to protect your grandchild.