We see many grandparents who are actively raising their grandchildren. Some are helping out the parents, others have fully taken the role of being the parent. Here in Florida, grandparents do not have visitation rights. (Update: See “Grandparent Visitation Gains New Life“) However, the Florida Statutes allow grandparents, as well as other close relatives, to seek temporary custody when the parents have:
- Abandoned the children;
- Abused the children; or
- Neglected the children.
The basic question is whether the parents are unfit, which the judge determines.
There are some essential requirements, one of which is that the child in question must be residing with the family member seeking temporary custody. Of course, parents can stipulate to the grandparents having temporary custody. These kind of orders are often necessary when the grandparents try to enroll the child into their local public schools. A similar question that comes up is when can a grandparent adopt a child. Family members can certainly adopt the child, but two things are necessary: (1) evidence that the parent has completely abandoned the child; and (2) that the adoption is in the child’s best interests.
We handle grandparent and step-parent adoptions on a regular basis. If you or someone you know has a similar situation, please call or email me and we will be glad to assist.