Grandparents in Florida have limited rights to see their grandchildren, with courts coming down on the side of parents as the rightful decision-makers in who can interact with their children. Despite this judicial climate, the grandparents of two Orange County children won visitation rights earlier this year, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The decision comes from Florida's Supreme Court and allows the paternal grandparents to have the children visit them at their Colorado home twice a year.
In handing down the ruling, justices were careful to note that the case did not apply to grandparents living in Florida, who have no such rights. Justices explain that their decision is due to Colorado court rulings that allow the grandparents to have visitation rights. The Florida court was following a U.S. Constitutional clause that requires stated to recognize judicial decisions of other states.
In cases requiring the removal of children from parental custody, Florida law allows grandparents to have visitation rights, but only if both parents are unable to retain custody. Circumstances in which this can occur include when one parent dies and the other is in prison or ill, or child services officials remove the children for their welfare.
In these and similar circumstances, grandparents are allowed "reasonable," unsupervised and frequent visitation, including having grandchildren visit them in their home. The state does not charge a fee for arranging visits. However, grandparents are responsible for transportation costs when the children visit their home. All family members are allowed to send letters, cards and gifts to the children as well.
If a Florida jurisdiction terminates parental rights, the action does not affect grandparents' visitations. If the appropriate jurisdiction does not sever parental rights and the family is reunited, visitation rights of the grandparents end.