As you may or may not know, grandparents do have rights when it comes to visitation with their grandchildren. In some situations, it may even be necessary to award custody to a grandparent in the event that the parents are no longer considered fit.
But as with any custody or visitation decision, the courts need to consider what is in the child’s best interest. There are several elements a Florida judge must take into consideration; and in the end, there is no guarantee that the living situation with the grandparents will be considered any better than it is with the child’s parents.
Unfortunately, as some of our Orlando and Tampa readers may have heard in the news, an archaic law still on our books is creating legal problems for some grandparents. That’s because the law, which has been on our books since 1868, is making some grandparents ineligible for visitation with their grandchildren. According to Senator Eleanor Sobel, this is a law that needs to catch up with the times.
Under the current Florida statute for grandparents’ rights, a judge may deny visitation if a grandparent is found guilty of violating the statute relating to lewd and lascivious behavior. Unfortunately, men and woman who are living together but are not married fall under this statute. This means that grandparents who are cohabitating may be denied visitation, even if they meet all of the court’s other requirements for a safe and stable home.
Even though the repeal of this law has passed the Criminal Justice Committee and is set to move to the Senate floor in May, grandparents who are concerned that they could be denied visitation because of this law are still encouraged to obtain legal counsel. With an attorney at your side, you have a better chance of showing why you should be allowed visitation and why cohabitation should not be a factor in this decision.