Florida Senate - 2020                                    SB 1886
       By Senator Brandes
       24-01788A-20                                          20201886__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to grandparent visitation rights;
    3         amending s. 752.011, F.S.; authorizing a grandparent
    4         of a minor child whose parent was the victim of a
    5         murder to petition the court for court-ordered
    6         visitation with the child under certain circumstances;
    7         removing the requirement that a grandparent
    8         petitioning the court for court-ordered visitation
    9         with a minor child make a prima facie showing of
   10         parental unfitness or significant harm to the child in
   11         a preliminary hearing on such petition and instead
   12         requiring the grandparent to make a prima facie
   13         showing of other specified conditions; conforming
   14         provisions to changes made by the act; providing an
   15         effective date.
   17         WHEREAS, Florida law permits case-by-case judicial review
   18  of grandparent visitation in very limited circumstances under s.
   19  752.011, Florida Statutes; however, it does not address review
   20  of grandparent visitation in criminal cases, such as when one
   21  parent is deceased under violent or criminal circumstances and
   22  the surviving parent forbids contact between the deceased’s
   23  parents and their grandchildren, and
   24         WHEREAS, the right to petition courts is no guarantee of
   25  access or visitation; rather, it simply allows courts to review
   26  the case and determine what is both safe and in the best
   27  interest of the child involved, and
   28         WHEREAS, in the best interest of a child who is already
   29  dealing with complex grief at the loss of a parent and, further,
   30  in the interest of justice under circumstances where criminal
   31  proceedings are ongoing or anticipated, courts should have the
   32  authority to review grandparent petitions for visitation, and
   33         WHEREAS, giving courts the authority to review grandparent
   34  petitions for visitation would prevent the separation of
   35  children and families while the justice system reviews cases,
   36  and could further disincentivize or deter criminal action in
   37  divorce and custody cases, NOW, THEREFORE,
   39  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   41         Section 1. Section 752.011, Florida Statutes, is amended to
   42  read:
   43         752.011 Petition for grandparent visitation with a minor
   44  child.—
   45         (1) A grandparent of a minor child may petition the court
   46  for court-ordered visitation with the minor child if:
   47         (a)The whose parents of the minor child are deceased,
   48  missing, or in a persistent vegetative state;, or
   49         (b)whose One parent of the minor child is deceased,
   50  missing, or in a persistent vegetative state and the whose other
   51  parent has:
   52         1. Been convicted of a felony or an offense of violence
   53  evincing behavior that poses a substantial threat of harm to the
   54  minor child’s health or welfare;
   55         2.Been identified by the state attorney as a person of
   56  interest or an unindicted co-conspirator in an open homicide
   57  investigation relating to the deceased parent’s murder; or
   58         3.Willingly allowed the minor child to be supervised by an
   59  individual identified by the state attorney as a person of
   60  interest or an unindicted co-conspirator in an open homicide
   61  investigation relating to the deceased parent’s murder, may
   62  petition the court for court-ordered visitation with the
   63  grandchild under this section.
   64         (2)(1) Upon the filing of a petition by a grandparent for
   65  visitation, the court shall hold a preliminary hearing to
   66  determine whether the petitioner has made a prima facie showing
   67  of one of the conditions in subsection (1) parental unfitness or
   68  significant harm to the child. Absent such a showing, the court
   69  shall dismiss the petition and may award reasonable attorney
   70  fees and costs to be paid by the petitioner to the respondent.
   71         (3)(2) If the court finds that there is prima facie
   72  evidence of one of the conditions in subsection (1) that a
   73  parent is unfit or that there is significant harm to the child,
   74  the court may appoint a guardian ad litem and shall refer the
   75  matter to family mediation as provided in s. 752.015. If family
   76  mediation does not successfully resolve the issue of grandparent
   77  visitation, the court shall proceed with a final hearing.
   78         (4)(3) After conducting a final hearing on the issue of
   79  visitation, the court may award reasonable visitation to the
   80  grandparent with respect to the minor child if the court finds
   81  by clear and convincing evidence that a parent is unfit or that
   82  there is significant harm to the child, that visitation is in
   83  the best interest of the minor child, and that the visitation
   84  will not materially harm the parent-child relationship.
   85         (5)(4) In assessing the best interest of the child under
   86  subsection (4) (3), the court shall consider the totality of the
   87  circumstances affecting the mental and emotional well-being of
   88  the minor child, including:
   89         (a) The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing
   90  between the minor child and the grandparent, including those
   91  resulting from the relationship that had been previously allowed
   92  by the child’s parent.
   93         (b) The length and quality of the previous relationship
   94  between the minor child and the grandparent, including the
   95  extent to which the grandparent was involved in providing
   96  regular care and support for the child.
   97         (c) Whether the grandparent established ongoing personal
   98  contact with the minor child before the death of the parent,
   99  before the onset of the parent’s persistent vegetative state, or
  100  before the parent was missing.
  101         (d) The reasons cited by the respondent parent in ending
  102  contact or visitation between the minor child and the
  103  grandparent.
  104         (e) Whether there has been significant and demonstrable
  105  mental or emotional harm to the minor child as a result of the
  106  disruption in the family unit, whether the child derived support
  107  and stability from the grandparent, and whether the continuation
  108  of such support and stability is likely to prevent further harm.
  109         (f) The existence or threat to the minor child of mental
  110  injury as defined in s. 39.01.
  111         (g) The present mental, physical, and emotional health of
  112  the minor child.
  113         (h) The present mental, physical, and emotional health of
  114  the grandparent.
  115         (i) The recommendations of the minor child’s guardian ad
  116  litem, if one is appointed.
  117         (j) The result of any psychological evaluation of the minor
  118  child.
  119         (k) The preference of the minor child if the child is
  120  determined to be of sufficient maturity to express a preference.
  121         (l) A written testamentary statement by the deceased parent
  122  regarding visitation with the grandparent. The absence of a
  123  testamentary statement is not deemed to provide evidence that
  124  the deceased or missing parent or parent in a persistent
  125  vegetative state would have objected to the requested
  126  visitation.
  127         (m) Other factors that the court considers necessary to
  128  making its determination.
  129         (6)(5) In assessing material harm to the parent-child
  130  relationship under subsection (4) (3), the court shall consider
  131  the totality of the circumstances affecting the parent-child
  132  relationship, including:
  133         (a) Whether there have been previous disputes between the
  134  grandparent and the parent over childrearing or other matters
  135  related to the care and upbringing of the minor child.
  136         (b) Whether visitation would materially interfere with or
  137  compromise parental authority.
  138         (c) Whether visitation can be arranged in a manner that
  139  does not materially detract from the parent-child relationship,
  140  including the quantity of time available for enjoyment of the
  141  parent-child relationship and any other consideration related to
  142  disruption of the schedule and routine of the parent and the
  143  minor child.
  144         (d) Whether visitation is being sought for the primary
  145  purpose of continuing or establishing a relationship with the
  146  minor child with the intent that the child benefit from the
  147  relationship.
  148         (e) Whether the requested visitation would expose the minor
  149  child to conduct, moral standards, experiences, or other factors
  150  that are inconsistent with influences provided by the parent.
  151         (f) The nature of the relationship between the child’s
  152  parent and the grandparent.
  153         (g) The reasons cited by the parent in ending contact or
  154  visitation between the minor child and the grandparent which was
  155  previously allowed by the parent.
  156         (h) The psychological toll of visitation disputes on the
  157  minor child.
  158         (i) Other factors that the court considers necessary in
  159  making its determination.
  160         (7)(6) Part II of chapter 61 applies to actions brought
  161  under this section.
  162         (8)(7) If actions under this section and s. 61.13 are
  163  pending concurrently, the courts are strongly encouraged to
  164  consolidate the actions in order to minimize the burden of
  165  litigation on the minor child and the other parties.
  166         (9)(8) An order for grandparent visitation may be modified
  167  upon a showing by the person petitioning for modification that a
  168  substantial change in circumstances has occurred and that
  169  modification of visitation is in the best interest of the minor
  170  child.
  171         (10)(9) An original action requesting visitation under this
  172  section may be filed by a grandparent only once during any 2
  173  year period, except on good cause shown that the minor child is
  174  suffering, or may suffer, significant and demonstrable mental or
  175  emotional harm caused by a parental decision to deny visitation
  176  between a minor child and the grandparent, which was not known
  177  to the grandparent at the time of filing an earlier action.
  178         (11)(10) This section does not provide for grandparent
  179  visitation with a minor child placed for adoption under chapter
  180  63 except as provided in s. 752.071 with respect to adoption by
  181  a stepparent or close relative.
  182         (12)(11) Venue shall be in the county where the minor child
  183  primarily resides, unless venue is otherwise governed by chapter
  184  39, chapter 61, or chapter 63.
  185         Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2020.