Articles Posted in Grandparent Rights

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In Florida, the Department of Children and Families (DCF)is designed to protect children. The goal is not to shatter the home, but to protect the safety and welfare of the children. In its protective role, DCF can act in more of a prosecutorial manner and rather than seeing an incident as a possible accident, they become more accusatory in nature.

Some of the consequences of DCF involvement is that they have the ability to remove children from your home pending an investigation and during the completion of a case plan, which could take from 6 months to a year, or more. If the case plan is not properly completed, then DCF has the ability to petition the courts to declare the child(ren) dependent on the state, terminate parental rights and place the child(ren) in foster care or up for adoption.

Our firm has represented numerous parents and grandparents who have faced DCF charges for putting a child or children in harms way. The reality is that DCF can have an awful impact and disruption on your family and representation is important.

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Grandparents’ rights in Florida are not easy to accomplish. The Florida Supreme Court has held that the Florida Constitution makes it a personal right to determine who parents allow around their children, even when the excluded parties are family members. In the Jacksonville, Florida area, there are attorneys working to fight against the perception of no rights for grandparents and sometimes there are creative methods that can be used.

The common scenario we receive is someone calling and stating, “My daughter isn’t allowing me or my Husband to see our grandkids! I want to file a petition for grandparent visitation with the courts! Can you help me?” While the situation is sad and usually not in the best interests of the children to cease a close familial relationship with their grandparents, the Florida law is such that grandparents do not have an inherent right to visitation with their grandchildren.

However, the situation is not completely dire. Sometimes there are ways around the issue and having someone review your particular facts may be beneficial. Recently in St. Augustine, Florida, a man was accused of killing his wife and was charged with the crime. Prior to his arrest, the man completed a Power of Attorney so that his children could be cared for by his parents. While this is an extreme example, the underlying fact remains that parents can give up their visitation with the children to their parents if they are going to be away for a length of time. This may be a “loop hole” for some looking to see the grandchild that now lives with their child’s exspouse

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We hear about teen pregancies from Florida to California all of the time. Ranging from politicians to pop stars, the issue seems to be a constant in our lives. Sarah Palin’s daughter was 17 years old and pregnant, Jamie Lynn Spears was 16 and pregnant, and most likely your Florida teen knows someone in high school that’s pregnant. Taking the political nature of the question out, as in Pro Life or Pro Choice, what are the options one has?

I’m pretty certain that many of these young girls really don’t want to get married right now, but obviously that is an option. But, does it really solve the problem? In Florida we recognize that parents have the right to child support, so the old fashioned idea of pregnancy equals marriage is not really necessary. In fact, it statistically causes more problems later since the majority of marriages that end are due to the couples being too young when they got married.

Another answer is for a paternity test to be done and filed with the court in order to prove the child does have a father, and hold that father responsible for any child support obligations. In teen pregnancy the mother and father are sometimes in school, but the court can impute income for child support to be assessed. Also, the child does have the option of going on state funded medical insurance. However, this is a tough road altogether and it’s important to make certain you’re making the right choice.