Visitation Rights in Florida
In our last post, the discussion turned to child visitation rights regarding the interest of grandparents. Stemming from this, one’s attention naturally turns towards other key figures in a child’s life, such as a biological parent’s partner or a step-parent who has not sought formal adoption. In these circumstances, mirroring the conclusion of our previous post, the court maintains its lack of inherent authority to award timesharing with a child to anyone but a biological parent. The court cites the same reasoning, that being that the biological parent has a privacy right to rear his or her child under the Florida Constitution which may not be infringed upon absent harm to the child.
Who Can Be Awarded Visitation Rights?
This ruling has extended to all parties seeking “visitation”, including but not limited to, sperm donors; those having lengthy live-in relationships with the child’s biological parent; same sex partners; and those who have supported and otherwise acted as a de facto parent to the child regardless of the time frame. Further, any agreement entered into by the party and biological parent for visitation (now referred to as timesharing) has been held to be unenforceable regardless of specific performance. Clients often are puzzled by this as the court’s standard in making decisions pertaining to a minor child is what is in the child’s best interest, however, the court has even gone so far as to state that the child has no right to sue for visitation through a guardian as third party beneficiary.
**It is important to note that if any circumstances present themselves that question the safety of the minor child, any concerned party may seek the initiation of proceedings to protect the well-being of the child through dependency proceedings under Florida Statutes Chapter 39.
Dealing with divorce, and its effects, can be confusing without knowledge of Florida law; especially when faced with deciding what is best for your child. Make sure you have a well educated divorce lawyer who knows the ins and outs of visitation rights to ensure your interests are protected.