SB 368 Rights of Grandparents

Serving Families Throughout Palm Beach Gardens

The grandparents’ rights bill was recently signed in to law by Governor Rick Scott, and took effect on July 1, 2015 in Florida.

This law brings forth the first advancement in grandparent visitation rights in over a decade. The new law authorizes the grandparents of a minor child to petition the court for visitation under certain circumstances, such as the deaths of the parents, the parents being in a vegetative state, or missing. The law will also apply if one parent passes away, goes missing, or is in a vegetative state and the other parent has been convicted of a felony or is deemed unfit.  The bill specifically states, “Upon the filing of a petition by a grandparent for visitation, the court shall hold a preliminary hearing … and the court may award reasonable visitation to the grandparent … if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that a parent is unfit or that there is significant harm to the child, that visitation is in the best interest of the minor child, and that the visitation will not materially harm the parent-child relationship.”

Outside of the above circumstances, grandparents have very little legal visitation rights as many Florida rulings have upheld that parents have the right to choose who has access to their children.

As of this writing, the new law will not apply to children who have grandparents residing outside of the state of Florida. Although the new law does not directly affect many grandparents at the moment, legislators are hoping to eventually broaden its scope.

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John Schutz

John Schutz

Partner at John F. Schutz, P.L.

Representing clients exclusively in family law cases for the past 24 years, Mr. Schutz is widely regarded as a marital and family law expert. He is Board Certified in marital and family law by The Florida Bar. As a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), Mr. Schutz is committed to elevating the standards and improving the practice of family law.

John Schutz

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