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Attorney Wayne
Attorney Wayne, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 1506
Experience:  Practicing Law Since 2000
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My granddaughter, that I had custody of until she turned 18,

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My granddaughter, that I had custody of until she turned 18, had a baby girl 2/28/09, then died 2 weeks later due to blood clots. The father of the child has always let us be a part of her life, but he has a girlfriend (lives with and has another child with now). DCF was called on the girlfriend, not by my family, but she believes it was us. Now she says we'll never see her again. The father is letting the girlfriend dictate what happens with my great granddaughter. Do we have any legal options?
I do need to say that my husband and I are not blood related, but this is the 3rd generation of girls that we have raised, been a part of their lives for 34 years. My step daughter and her daughter, (the grandmother and mother of the child in question) are both deceased.
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Hello. Thanks for contacting us. You are a wonderful great-grandparentand no doubt did a wonderful job raising your granddaughter. I know how heart-wrenching it is to be cut off now from her child.

Florida has a strange legal situation, which unfortunately does not bode well for any legal action to have visitation with the child. Although laws protect grandparent rights, they have been ruled unconstitutional by state courts because they interfere with the parents' interest in raising a child.

If the father is remarried, it is unlikely that anything but persuasion will work to get access. The key concept in Florida law that could allow access by someone in your situation is whether or not the child is being raised in an intact family.

The other thing that could be helpful is understanding the nature of the DCS complaint. Did they find anything? Does the mother do things that would involve the authorities? If so, there may be hook there -- but, of course, that could make the estrangement situation worse.

I feel your pain on this one. I wish the law was more favorable -- but the courts have so severely curtailed the statute that would have made visitation possible.

I do wish you all the best in seeking reconciliation. And, of course, if this information has helped frame the issue, and you think there may be a chance that you fit into the narrow legal exceptions (not intact family) then it may be worthwhile to consult a family law attorney in Florida who has handled grandparent cases before.

Attorney Wayne and 4 other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Are there even any visitation rights that we could try for? It's so hard to know what we're allowed to try for. I don't have a lawyer on retain, so I don't know where to check without throwing money away if there is really nothing we can hope for???....

I fully understand. The reality is that this is a difficult case to make -- because as long as there is an "intact family" and there is nothing odd, abusive, illegal or some form of mental illness that would make the biological parent and a new partner unfit, the state gives them the same rights as two biological parents would have.

Essentially, a grandparent is in the same position here, as grandparent would be if both their biological child and a spouse were estranged from them. Ultimately, the parents, when there is no dysfunction among the parent and partner, have the final say.

A lawyer could be helpful identifying possible means to show that the parents are not fit. But that, of course, is a very aggressive strategy -- and is not one to enter unless the claims are real, unless one is willing to live the consequences of ill will.

Ultimately, diplomacy is a better tool than the law -- but that does not mean the law is without teeth. Its just that its muzzled until there is some extreme situation when it can be released. If there are any neutral third parties that both sides trust, perhaps they can help (religious or civic leaders are often helpful). Likewise, mediation may help -- but of course, both sides need to agree to have it.

I hope this explains; ultimately, this is a personal and emotional question. If one or two hours worth of fees to a lawyer to evaluate the case would give you peace of mind that you've explored all legal avenues, then its worth the money. But understand that the odds are long unless there is, as noted, such dysfunction in the children's home as
abuse and or neglect, or dangerous mental or social illness.

Sorry that I can't provide a more upbeat assessment, but I suspect you wanted the unvarnished truth.

I understand how painful it is. I'd be devastated in the situation you describe.

I wish you all the best as you work to resolve this matter.