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South Florida Grandparents and Divorce: Rights Are Few, Roles Can be Great

Any South Florida divorce lawyer or family law attorney knows that for families in Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Miami and Palm Beach facing divorce, grandparents can play important roles. They can help maintain normalcy in the children's lives - even as the parents endure the difficult trials of divorce. Children of a family torn apart by the separation need stability, continuity and comfort that well-intended grandparents can provide.

Yet, grandparents in Florida have no legal standing or rights when it comes to a formal role in the grandchildren's lives.

The Florida Supreme Court years ago ruled in a succession of cases that grandparents have no constitutional assurances of visitation. The court also ruled that in the situation that when one parent dies, the surviving parent - who, in this case, had remarried and create "an intact family" - can bar the decedent's parents from any visitation or "unreasonable intrusion into the family."

The role of the grandparents also can be an issue with timesharing and custody. Imagine timesharing is evenly split. But one parent on his weekend with the children has travel plans that cannot include the children. Can he defer his timesharing to his parents? Often, the timesharing agreement gives the "right of first refusal" to the other parent, who can opt to take the children - or let them stay with the grandparents or another third party (other family, friends, a baby sitter, etc.) the father had chosen.

Though settled by the courts, the role of grandparents remains a contentious area for families. After all, husbands and wives aren't the only ones getting divorced. The families will be pulled apart from what has been normal. Assuming the grandparents have the best interests of the children in mind, and only encourage the children to maintain close bonds with both parents - as opposed to "taking sides" in the new family reality - they can be a foundation for the children to maintain their lives. The Huffington Post recently published an article on how grandparents can help children adjust to divorce.

This can be a great situation, if the parents and in-laws all get along.

The Law Firm of Barry I. Finkel P.A., handles complex divorce litigation for a variety of clients, including high net worth individuals. As a divorce and family law firm, the practice serves the needs of the entire family. Established in Fort Lauderdale / Broward County, Florida, in 1992, and now in Boca Raton, the firm's lawyers provide trusted matrimonial counsel to clients facing turbulent times and unsettling circumstances. For a consultation or to schedule an appointment, please call 954-776-1414.

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