Florida Senate - 2022                                    SB 1408
       By Senator Perry
       8-01746-22                                            20221408__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to grandparent rights in dependency
    3         proceedings; amending s. 39.01, F.S.; revising the
    4         definition of the term “party”; amending s. 39.509,
    5         F.S.; creating a presumption for granting a maternal
    6         or paternal grandparent or stepgrandparent reasonable
    7         visitation of a dependent child under certain
    8         circumstances; providing a burden for overcoming such
    9         presumption; authorizing the maternal or paternal
   10         grandparent or stepgrandparent of a dependent child to
   11         file a motion to intervene in a dependency proceeding
   12         under certain circumstances; requiring the court to
   13         automatically grant standing in a dependency
   14         proceeding to the maternal or paternal grandparent or
   15         stepgrandparent under certain circumstances; providing
   16         an effective date.
   18  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   20         Section 1. Subsection (58) of section 39.01, Florida
   21  Statutes, is amended to read:
   22         39.01 Definitions.—When used in this chapter, unless the
   23  context otherwise requires:
   24         (58) “Party” means the parent or parents of the child, the
   25  petitioner, the department, the guardian ad litem or the
   26  representative of the guardian ad litem program when the program
   27  has been appointed, and the child. The maternal or paternal
   28  grandparent or stepgrandparent of the child may become a party,
   29  but only to the extent permitted under s. 39.509(2). The
   30  presence of the child may be excused by order of the court when
   31  presence would not be in the child’s best interest. Notice to
   32  the child may be excused by order of the court when the age,
   33  capacity, or other condition of the child is such that the
   34  notice would be meaningless or detrimental to the child.
   35         Section 2. Section 39.509, Florida Statutes, is amended to
   36  read:
   37         39.509 Grandparents rights.—
   38         (1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a maternal
   39  or paternal grandparent as well as a stepgrandparent is entitled
   40  to reasonable visitation with his or her grandchild who has been
   41  adjudicated a dependent child and taken from the physical
   42  custody of the parent unless the court finds that such
   43  visitation is not in the best interests interest of the child or
   44  that such visitation would interfere with the goals of the case
   45  plan. If the court finds that one parent of the dependent child
   46  has been held criminally or civilly liable for the death of the
   47  other parent of the dependent child, there is a presumption for
   48  granting reasonable visitation with the petitioning grandparent
   49  or stepgrandparent if he or she is the parent of the dependent
   50  child’s deceased parent. This presumption may be overcome only
   51  if the court finds that granting such visitation is not in the
   52  best interests of the child. Reasonable visitation may be
   53  unsupervised and, where appropriate and feasible, may be
   54  frequent and continuing. Any order for visitation or other
   55  contact must conform to the provisions of s. 39.0139.
   56         (a)(1) Grandparent visitation may take place in the home of
   57  the grandparent unless there is a compelling reason for denying
   58  such a visitation. The department’s caseworker shall arrange the
   59  visitation to which a grandparent is entitled under pursuant to
   60  this section. The state may shall not charge a fee for any costs
   61  associated with arranging the visitation. However, the
   62  grandparent must shall pay for the child’s cost of
   63  transportation when the visitation is to take place in the
   64  grandparent’s home. The caseworker must shall document the
   65  reasons for any decision to restrict a grandparent’s visitation.
   66         (b)(2) A grandparent entitled to visitation under pursuant
   67  to this section is shall not be restricted from appropriate
   68  displays of affection to the child, such as appropriately
   69  hugging or kissing his or her grandchild. Gifts, cards, and
   70  letters from the grandparent and other family members may shall
   71  not be denied to a child who has been adjudicated a dependent
   72  child.
   73         (c)(3) Any attempt by a grandparent to facilitate a meeting
   74  between the child who has been adjudicated a dependent child and
   75  the child’s parent or legal custodian, or any other person in
   76  violation of a court order shall automatically terminate future
   77  visitation rights of the grandparent.
   78         (d)(4) When the child has been returned to the physical
   79  custody of his or her parent, the visitation rights granted
   80  under pursuant to this section shall terminate.
   81         (e)(5) The termination of parental rights does not affect
   82  the rights of grandparents unless the court finds that such
   83  visitation is not in the best interest of the child or that such
   84  visitation would interfere with the goals of permanency planning
   85  for the child.
   86         (f)(6) In determining whether grandparental visitation is
   87  not in the child’s best interest, consideration may be given to
   88  the following:
   89         1.(a) The finding of guilt, regardless of adjudication, or
   90  entry or plea of guilty or nolo contendere to charges under the
   91  following statutes, or similar statutes of other jurisdictions:
   92  s. 787.04, relating to removing minors from the state or
   93  concealing minors contrary to court order; s. 794.011, relating
   94  to sexual battery; s. 798.02, relating to lewd and lascivious
   95  behavior; chapter 800, relating to lewdness and indecent
   96  exposure; s. 826.04, relating to incest; or chapter 827,
   97  relating to the abuse of children.
   98         2.(b) The designation by a court as a sexual predator as
   99  defined in s. 775.21 or a substantially similar designation
  100  under laws of another jurisdiction.
  101         3.(c) A report of abuse, abandonment, or neglect under ss.
  102  415.101-415.113 or this chapter and the outcome of the
  103  investigation concerning such report.
  104         (2)Notwithstanding any other provision of law, once a
  105  child has been adjudicated a dependent child and is taken from
  106  the physical custody of the parent, the maternal or paternal
  107  grandparent or stepgrandparent of that child may file a motion
  108  to intervene in the dependency proceeding. If the court has
  109  terminated parental rights, the maternal or paternal grandparent
  110  or stepgrandparent of the child shall automatically become a
  111  party to the dependency proceeding unless the court finds that
  112  allowing the grandparent or stepgrandparent standing is not in
  113  the best interests of the child.
  114         Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2022.