Every state across the country has enacted statutory guidelines for granting grandparent visitation rights to grandparents.
The primary purpose is to give grandparents the opportunity to maintain contact and maintain a relationship with their grandchildren. The laws governing grandparent visitation rights can be broken down into two categories: restrictive visitation statutes and permissive visitation statutes. Particularly, restrictive visitation laws only permit grandparents to seek legal visitation rights with the courts in the event that both the child’s parents are deceased, or the parents are divorced. On the other hand, permissive visitation laws permit both grandparents and other third parties to request visitation with the child, even if the child’s parents are still married or alive. In all instances, visitation is determined by what’s in the best interest of the child.
In Florida, Grandparent rights are governed by Title V. Chapter 39, section 509
39.509 Grandparents rights.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a maternal or paternal grandparent as well as a stepgrandparent is entitled to reasonable visitation with his or her grandchild who has been adjudicated a dependent child and taken from the physical custody of the parent unless the Court finds that such visitation is not in the best interest of the child or that such visitation would interfere with the goals of the case plan. Reasonable visitation may be unsupervised and, where appropriate and feasible, may be frequent and continuing. Any order for visitation or other contact must conform to the provisions of s. 39.0139.
(1) Grandparent visitation may take place in the home of the grandparent unless there is a compelling reason for denying such a visitation. The department’s caseworker shall arrange the visitation to which a grandparent is entitled pursuant to this section. The state shall not charge a fee for any costs associated with arranging the visitation. However, the grandparent shall pay for the child’s cost of transportation when the visitation is to take place in the grandparent’s home. The caseworker shall document the reasons for any decision to restrict a grandparent’s visitation.
(2) A grandparent entitled to visitation pursuant to this section shall not be restricted from appropriate displays of affection to the child, such as appropriately hugging or kissing his or her grandchild. Gifts, cards, and letters from the grandparent and other family members shall not be denied to a child who has been adjudicated a dependent child.
(3) Any attempt by a grandparent to facilitate a meeting between the child who has been adjudicated a dependent child and the child’s parent or legal custodian, or any other person in violation of a court order shall automatically terminate future visitation rights of the grandparent.
(4) When the child has been returned to the physical custody of his or her parent, the visitation rights granted pursuant to this section shall terminate.
(5) The termination of parental rights does not affect the rights of grandparents unless the Court finds that such visitation is not in the best interest of the child or that such visitation would interfere with the goals of permanency planning for the child.
(6) In determining whether grandparental visitation is not in the child’s best interest, consideration may be given to the following:
(a) The finding of guilt, regardless of adjudication, or entry or plea of guilty or nolo contendere to charges under the following statutes, or similar statutes of other jurisdictions: s. 787.04, relating to removing minors from the state or concealing minors contrary to court order; s. 794.011, relating to sexual battery; s. 798.02, relating to lewd and lascivious behavior; chapter 800, relating to lewdness and indecent exposure; s. 826.04, relating to incest; or chapter 827, relating to the abuse of children.
(b) The designation by a court as a sexual predator as defined in s. 775.21 or a substantially similar designation under laws of another jurisdiction.
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