Grandparents Deserve To Be Heard and We Want Visitation!!!!!
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The number of grandparents raising grandchildren has steadily risen every year for the past two decades. In order to keep up with this trend it is time for the laws regarding grandparent visitation to be changed as well. Grandparents in Florida have no rights to visitation with their grandchildren unless they fall into one of two categories. Either both parents must be deceased, missing or in a vegetative state OR one parent is deceased, missing or in a vegetative state AND the other parent has been convicted of a felony or an offense of violence that could pose a threat of harm to the minor child. So, in other words it is extremely rare for a grandparent to be entitled to any rights whatsoever.
As a 60 year old grandmother who has raised and now has permanent custody of my 7 year old granddaughter (since the age of 15 months) and as someone who works in pediatrics I see family after family with this issue. I would estimate at least 30% of the patients I see daily are brought in by a grandparent who is either co-raising the child/children or has custody. The number of great-grandparents doing this is going up as well!! I have one co-worker who has custody of three grandchildren and another who has often found herself raising her two.
In the small church I attend (approximately 300 members) alone there are five sets of grandparents raising the grandkids that I am aware of.
The courts reach out to grandparents when children are taken away yet until then we have no rights? Study after study shows the importance of grandparents in a child's life! If you look at why a parent/s want to alienate the grandparent/s it is rarely due to mistreatment or neglect. It is most often because there are underlying issues such as substance abuse, the parent and grandparents not seeing eye to eye on lifestyles (with mine it is daily drug and/or alcohol use), the parent is mad at the other parent and takes is taking it out on that family as well or it is a method the parent/s use to manipulate the grandparent into giving them money, paying bills for them, keeping them supplied in clothing and/or diapers, etc., or because they simply do not want to work. When we don't or are not able to give into their demands we are punished by not being allowed to see the child/children.
Florida laws needs to recognize the importance of grandparents in the lives of these children! Florida laws need to acknowledge that if we are good enough to oversee custody when the law becomes involved then we are good enough to have more rights to visitation before that happens. Florida laws need to work more toward keeping families intact rather than tearing them apart!!!
As a grandparent who loves and misses her grandchildren every day and worries about them constantly I will NOT STOP until the law is changed!!!
These antiquated laws MUST be changed!!!!
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