Over the Hills and Through the Woods
“To grandmother’s house we go,” are the lyrics of a famous children’s song. With the holidays here, many children from divorced families are lucky enough to visit and stay in touch with both paternal and maternal grandparents. However, many grandmothers and grandfathers lose all contact with their grandchildren especially when there has been an acrimonious divorce and one of the former spouses denies the grandparents any sort of timesharing or visitation.
American laws regarding grandparent visitation are broad and diverse depending on the state in which the parties live. In Delaware, for instance, the Court may grant grandparents timesharing if it is in the child’s best interests. However, if that child is eventually adopted, grandparent visitation terminates. In Hawaii, the Courts may consider the child’s own wishes if the child is mature enough. Maine will allow grandparent visitation if at least one of the grandchild’s parents is deceased.
Chapter 752 of the Florida Statutes deals with grandparent visitation rights. It includes grandparents and great-grandparents. §752.01 allows a grandparent to file a petition seeking visitation rights. The Courts consider the best interest of the child if the child’s parents’ marriage has been dissolved, one of the parents has deserted the child or if the child was born out of wedlock.
The Florida Courts consider, among other things, the willingness of the grandparent or grandparents to encourage a close relationship between the child and the parent or parents; the length and quality of the prior relationship between the child and the grandparent or grandparents; and the preference of the child if the child is determined to be of sufficient maturity to express a preference. While Florida Statutes allow for grandparent visitation, the Florida Supreme Court has ruled that some of its provisions are unconstitutional because they interfere with a parent’s rights to raise a child.
It is always wise to seek the advice of an attorney if you wish to pursue an action to see your grandchildren again.