Do Grandparents Have Visitation Rights in Florida?

Because of Florida’s strong protection of privacy rights, it is very difficult for grandparents in the state to obtain legal visitation rights. This is because courts have viewed an order for grandparents’ visitation as violating parental privacy.

Florida courts have consistently held that awarding visitation rights to grandparents over the objection of the parents would violate parental privacy, unless it would be harmful to the child to deny visitation. According to Florida law, grandparents have the right to petition for visitation under certain circumstances, but most of the substantive provisions of that law have been struck down as unconstitutional. Grandparents may obtain temporary custody of children in certain circumstances, such as neglect or abuse.

When grandparents have been awarded visitation rights under the laws of another state, Florida courts will usually enforce the provisions of those decisions. However, a 2012 case indicates that such decisions of other states may be invalidated under certain circumstances.

The Florida District Court of Appeals case Fazzini v. Davis concerned a father who was widowed with a three-month-old child. A Virginia court had ordered visitation rights for the maternal grandmother. When the father relocated with the child to Florida and remarried, he sought to terminate the maternal grandmother’s visitation rights. The Florida court found that there was a substantial change in circumstances and terminated the grandmother’s visitation rights.

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