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Does the New Florida Law About Grandparent Visitation Give Me the Legal Right to See My Grandchildren?

A new law took effect July 1 that is being heralded as the first law advancing grandparent visitation rights in Florida in decades. However, the law is extremely narrow, and only gives grandparents visitation rights in very limited circumstances.

The law only applies to a situation where the grandchild’s parents are both either dead, missing, or in a persistent vegetative state. It also applies if one of the parents is dead, missing, or in a persistent vegetative state, and the other parent has been convicted of a felony. In either of those situations, grandparents can sue for visitation. However, even under these conditions, grandparents must prove that the parents are unfit, or that there is a risk of “significant harm to the child” in order for the visitation to be granted.

Although this law applies only in extremely limited circumstances, some are seeing it as a step in the right direction. Florida has one of the largest populations of grandparents in the country. Almost a fifth of its population is age 65 and older, and about 75 percent of those individuals are estimated to be grandparents.

In some cases in which grandparents wish to take their children out of a bad living environment, grandparents have no choice but to adopt their grandchildren. This requires either consent from the parents, or proving in court that the parents are unfit.

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