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Bill Bolsters Grandparents’ Visitation Rights

A new bill that is heading to the governor to pass would make it easier for grandparents that have been denied visitation with their grandchildren the help that they need. Under the new law, in situations where the grandchild’s parents are both dead, missing, convicted of a felony offense, or in a vegetative state the grandparents can petition the court for visitation rights to see their grandchildren if they have been denied by the parent or guardian.

Inspiration for the Law

The inspiration for the new law came from the case of Yvonne Stewart. Her daughter had gone missing and her fiancée was named as the main suspect in her disappearance. However, he refused to let Ms. Stewart see her grandchildren and she has not seen them since. Her story came to the attention of Senator Joseph Abruzzo, and he has been working on passing legislation that would allow grandparent visitation rights for the last three years.

Details of the Law

In order to qualify under the new law, a grandparent must prove that the parents of the child are both dead, missing, convicted of a felony offense, in a vegetative state, or some combination of those causes. The court would look at the grandparent’s previous relationship with the child in addition to the physical, mental, and emotional welfare of both the grandparent and child.

The reasons behind the denial of visitation by the child’s parent or guardian would also be taken into consideration. In addition, the visitation rights for the grandparents could be terminated if the parent or guardian shows the court that the circumstances have changed or that the child was adopted by a new family. While the bill itself is fairly limited, it can still help many grandparents across the state regain the opportunity to see their grandchildren through the court process.

Reaction to the Bill

Recently, the Florida Senate passed the grandparent visitation bill unanimously, and it had also been passed unanimously by the Florida House of Representatives in March. While the Senator had believed that the new law might affect the situation of a few grandparents, he reported that since introducing the bill he has had “dozens and dozens of grandparents” that have come into his office to thank him and share similar stories to that of Ms. Stewart. “I can’t tell you the amount of grandparents who have contacted us or came personally to speak with us about how this bill will give them the opportunity to reunite their families.”

Call a Florida Family Law Attorney

The passage of the grandparent visitation rights law opens up the possibility of many people reuniting with their grandchildren in Florida. If you or someone that you know has questions regarding visitation or other issues of family law in the Orlando area, let the experienced office of Steve W. Marsee, P.A. help. We are here to help you understand the legal process.

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