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Steve W. Marsee, P.A. Orlando Divorce Attorney
  • Experienced DIVORCE ATTORNEY

What are the Rights of Non-Parental Relatives in a Florida Child Custody Dispute?

Child custody battles can quickly become emotionally charged, stressful and highly complex. When a non-parental relative attempts to assert their child custody rights, things can become even more complicated. In Florida, non-parental relatives will sometimes be able to prevail in a child custody dispute. However, Florida has a strong presumption in favor of awarding custody to the child’s parents. If you are seeking custody of a child in Central Florida, and you are not the biological parent of the child, you must act quickly. Please contact an experienced Orlando child custody attorney today to discuss your legal options.

The Best Interests of the Child Standard

In Florida, courts make child custody decisions using the ‘best interests of the child’ standard. All factors related to a child’s physical and psychological well-being will be weighed. Balancing all options, the situation that is deemed the best for the child’s healthy development will be selected. It is important to note that within this standard there is a very important presumption. The state of Florida believes that a custodial relationship with both parents is inherently in the best interests of all children. This presumption can be rebutted, but generally non-parental relatives will need to present the court with a very compelling case that the should be awarded custody. Most of the time, non-parental relatives will only be granted child custody if the available parent is deemed a threat to the child’s physical or emotional safety. Further, when child custody is granted to a grandparent or another relative, those custody rights are usually granted only in a temporary form.

Temporary Custody is Favored for Non-Parents

The Florida case of Slover v. Meyer provides a good example of how courts typically deal with non-parental child custody claims. In that case, a custody dispute arose between the child’s natural born father and the child’s maternal grandparents. Unfortunately, the child’s mother had passed away in the previous year. The child’s grandparents were seeking custody over the father because they believed that the father was unfit to care for the child. Evidence was presented that showed that the father had a recent history of drug abuse. However, the father did testify that he was getting himself treatment. Considering these circumstances, the court awarded the grandparents temporary custody and awarded the father with supervised child visitation that was to last for one year. After that year, assuming things went well, the father would then be granted a ‘step-up’ in visitation. At that point, the father would be allowed unsupervised access to his child. Eventually, in this case, the father was able to prove to the court that he beat his addiction and was therefore able to care for his child. The court then modified the previous custody arrangement and the father’s custody rights were restored.

Contact Our Orlando Office Today

At the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee, P.A., our experienced family law attorneys will work aggressively to help protect your child custody rights. Florida law can make custody issues more difficult for non-parents, but that does not mean that other relatives have no rights. If you are a non-parental relative involved in a child custody dispute, is critical that you take immediate legal action. Please contact us today at 407-521-7171 to set up a confidential review of your case.

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