Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Child Custody

Of note in recent Florida family law appellate decisions is grandparent visitation rights. While Florida recognizes a legal parent's constitutional right to privacy and therefore does not give standing to grandparents to petition for visitation rights, a Florida court must uphold and enforce a grandparent visitation order entered in another state. An interesting issue related to this came up in the case Downs v. Nottingham, 219 So.3d 244 (Fla. 5th DCA 2017). 

This case was on appeal for the second time in two years. In the first case, the appellate court decided the issue of whether or not the grandparents were entitled to enforce their Colorado visitation order in Florida where the mother had moved with the children at issue. After the appellate courts sided with the grandparents, the trial court was asked to consider the grandparents' request for make-up time-sharing with the children since the grandparents had missed visitation with the children in the midst of the litigation. 

The trial court denied the grandparents' request for make-up time-sharing, holding the part of the Florida statutes that authorizes make-up time-sharing explicitly allows for such only for parents. The court further reasoned no law gave it authority to award the make-up visitation to non-parents. The grandparents appealed this decision, taking this case back up to the appellate court to review. 

The appellate court reversed the trial court's decision, holding the full faith and credit clause makes it necessary for the grandparents to be able to enforce their rights under the Colorado order. Reading two different sections of the Florida Statutes, one of which authorizes the award of "any remedy" to enforce another state's child custody determination (Chp. 61.526, Fla. Stat.), the appellate court concluded the grandparents were entitled to make-up visitation. The trial court had to first determine such make-up visitation was in the best interest of the children and then fashion the time-sharing in a way that was best for the children. 

If you are a grandparent seeking to enforce court-ordered visitation rights, contact a Miami child custody lawyer. Through a consultation, you can learn about your options for seeking compliance with the order.