A dissolution of marriage may seem on the surface to impact just the two people who are at the center of the proceeding as well as any children that they may have together. While it is true that the immediate family is most profoundly affected, divorce touches other interested parties as well. It is not uncommon for very close relationships to develop between the relatives of married couples. In the majority of cases, the most significant relationships outside of the immediate family exist between the children of the divorcing couple and their grandparents.
Most people are well aware of how important it is for the children of divorced parents to maintain the fruitful relationships that they have enjoyed all along with the rest of the extended family. For this reason grandparents’ visitation rights are almost always granted by the custodial parent quite voluntarily. There are however occasional exceptions, and according to Florida law grandparents can petition the court to order visitation rights when certain conditions are met.
For the grandparents to have legal recourse if they are being denied visitation the grandchildren must be living with just one of the parents. If the family is still intact the grandparents cannot petition the court to order visitation rights. If the matter does make it before the court the judge will decide based on whether or not visitation would appear to be in the best interests of children. One of the factors that is taken into consideration is the willingness of the grandparents to foster a close relationship between the child and his or her parent or parents.
Grandparents and other third parties can be granted custody of dependent children under certain circumstances. These would include cases when both parents were absent, unavailable, or unfit due to death, incarceration, substance abuse or mental illness.
For legal advice about grandparents and third-party custody/visitation, contact a Tampa FL family attorney to arrange for a free consultation.