Grandparents could better petition to see grandkids under proposed law

A lawmaker will propose giving grandparents the rights to petition for rights to see their grandchildren.

TAMPA, FL -- There’s a big update in the fight for grandparents who are trying to get visitation rights.

A 10News enterprise report in August showed thousands and possibly millions of grandparents in America are getting cut off from seeing their grandchildren.

One emotional grandmother named Karen told us her story.

"This was my fear. That she would do something this drastic," Karen said about being alienated from seeing her now 2-year-old granddaughter.  

Now, state leaders are planning on making a change that could help her and so many others reconnect with their grandkids.

This is huge because it could be the catalyst that opens the door for future legislation.

A proposal is being submitted to change the state constitution.

It would allow a grandparent to petition for rights if they fear there will be harm to the child or children if visitation is not granted.

Darryl Rouson, a state senator from St. Petersburg, will file the proposal Tuesday.

"It's an opportunity to give grandparents the right to petition. It's not automatic. [The] court has to have a hearing and the burden of proof is on the grandparents, the moving party,” Rouson said.

Does current state law allow any grandparent visitation rights?

Yes, but only under very limited circumstances. One or both of the parents must be missing, dead or in a vegetative state for a grandparent to petition for visitation.

What are grandparents looking to change?

Grandparents in touch with Rouson are happy about this proposal. But, they are hoping for more legislation in the future, such as any grandparent who was once a guardian being able to file for visitation rights.

This current proposal is with the Constitution Revision Commission. It’s the group formed in Florida every 20 years that proposes changes to the Florida constitution.  Once they approve proposals, Floridians will be able to vote on them next year.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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