Grandparents Rights to Visit

Grandparents Rights to Visit

Florida Statute 39.509 details grandparents rights to visitation.  A maternal or paternal grandparent / step-grandparent is entitled to reasonable visitation with their grandchild who is adjudicated dependent and in out of home care; unless the Court finds that such visitation is not in the best interest of the child or would interfere with the goals of the case plan.

Grandparents should voice their interest in establishing visitation with the child to the Court and the child welfare agency, as soon as possible after the child is removed from the parent.  The Court considers whether family ties and the best interest of the minor child will be served by granting visitation/contact.  Reasonable visitation may be unsupervised, where appropriate and feasible, and may be frequent and continuing.  It can also include phone calls, emails and letters.  Oversight from the Court for the circumstance and frequency of visitation should be documented.

(1)  Grandparent visitation may take place in the home of the grandparent unless there is a compelling reason for denying such a visitation. The Case Manager arranges the visitation. The grandparent pay for the child's cost of transportation when the visitation is to take place in the grandparent's home. The Case Manager must document in FSFN any reason for the decision to restrict a grandparent's visitation.

(2)  A grandparent can demonstrate appropriate displays of affection to the child. The child must not be denied gifts, cards, and letters from the grandparent and other family members.

(3)  Any attempt by a grandparent to facilitate a meeting between the child and the child's parent, legal custodian, or any other person in violation of a court order automatically terminates future visitation rights of the grandparent.

(4)  When the child has been returned to the physical custody of his or her parent, the grandparent visitation rights are terminated. It is then at the parent’s discretion.

(5)  Termination of Parental Rights does not affect the rights of grandparents unless the Court finds it is not in the best interest of the child or that visitation would interfere with the goals of permanency planning for the child.  If the grandparent have not already established visitation with the child, it may be more difficult to convince the Court to grant visitation rights following Termination of Parental Rights.

(6)  In determining whether grandparent visitation is not in the child's best interest, consideration is given to whether the grandparents have a criminal history involving sexual crimes or violent crimes.  Also the grandparent’s history in relation to child abuse, abandonment, or neglect.