Extended family members like grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins can be a great support for children.
However, these connections tend to get lost when complex family legal matters arise. Here’s what you should know about making your case for the legal right to visitation to a child with whom you have a familial relationship.
Understanding Past Cases of Visitation for Extended Family
In the past, grandparents could be denied access to their grandchild if the parents wished it so. Evaluations of how this would impact the child’s well being were often never considered, and even loving, supportive grandparents had difficulty getting legal support if the child’s parents wanted to restrict visitation. Unfortunately, this was often used as a tool for manipulation.
Understanding Modern Cases of Visitation for Extended Family
Currently, the United States has passed legislation that gives grandparents — and sometimes other third parties like uncles, aunts, and older siblings — the right to petition a Florida court for visitation rights. This can be done with or without the consent of the child’s parents. While visitation is not automatically awarded under these laws, it allows third parties to independently bring visitation cases before a judge for a decision.
Under What Circumstances Are Grandparents Awarded Visitation?
The most common way a grandparent is awarded visitation is after the child’s parents get a divorce or if one parent dies. Sometimes, a grandparent or other third party may be granted legal visitation rights if a parent becomes incarcerated, if the child was born to parents who are unmarried, or if the child previously lived with them. When child abuse, domestic violence, or substance abuse are involved, grandparents who can provide stability for the child are likely to be awarded visitation, even outside of the above circumstances.
Steps to Take to Petition for Visitation Rights
To start the process of obtaining legal visitation rights to your grandchild, ask your local court for a Petition for Grandparent Visitation form. Fill it out as accurately as possible and submit it to the appropriate office for filing. You’ll be given a hearing date where a judge will go over your case and make a determination on whether visitation should or should not be awarded. If your petition is contested by the parent(s) of the child, the legal process may become more complicated.
Reach Out to a Tampa Family Attorney Now
Don’t wait to get the help of an experienced family lawyer if you’re the grandparent or extended family member of a child who you’d like to have the legal right to visit with.