April 25, 2019
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_h1521__
HB 1521

1
A bill to be entitled
2An act relating to grandparental visitation; creating s.
3752.011, F.S.; authorizing the grandparent of a minor
4child to petition a court for visitation under certain
5circumstances; providing a rebuttable presumption in favor
6of the minor's parent; requiring a preliminary hearing on
7harm to the minor resulting from denial of visitation;
8providing for the payment of fees and costs by a
9petitioner who fails to make a prima facie showing of
10harm; authorizing appointment of a guardian ad litem and
11mediation following a prima facie showing of harm;
12providing for a home-study investigation or professional
13evaluation of the minor if mediation fails; authorizing
14grandparental visitation if the court makes specified
15findings; requiring clear and convincing evidence that the
16denial of visitation has caused or is likely to cause
17demonstrable harm to the child's health, safety, or
18welfare; providing factors for court consideration in
19determining whether there is harm to the minor; providing
20for application of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction
21and Enforcement Act; encouraging the consolidation of
22certain concurrent actions; providing for modification of
23an order awarding grandparental visitation; limiting the
24frequency of actions seeking visitation; providing relief
25to the grandparent if the parent unreasonably denies or
26interferes with court-ordered visitation; prohibiting
27visitation subsequent to adoption except under certain
28circumstances; providing for application of sanctions for
29unsupported claims or defenses; providing for venue;
30amending s. 752.015, F.S.; conforming a cross-reference;
31creating s. 752.071, F.S.; providing conditions under
32which a court may terminate a grandparental visitation
33order upon adoption of a minor child by a stepparent or
34close relative; repealing s. 752.01, F.S., relating to
35actions for grandparental visitation; repealing s. 752.07,
36F.S., relating to the effect of adoption of a child by a
37stepparent on grandparental visitation; providing an
38effective date.
39
40Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
41
42     Section 1.  Section 752.011, Florida Statutes, is created
43to read:
44     752.011  Petition for grandparental visitation.--
45     (1)  A grandparent of an unmarried minor child may petition
46the court for reasonable visitation with the minor if the parent
47of the minor has denied visitation to the grandparent. There is
48a rebuttable presumption that a fit parent's decision to deny a
49grandparent reasonable visitation with the minor is in the
50child's best interest.
51     (2)  The petitioner must file a verified petition alleging
52that the denial of visitation has caused, or is likely to cause,
53demonstrable harm to the minor's health, safety, or welfare. The
54verified petition must include the specific facts and
55circumstances upon the basis of which visitation is sought.
56     (3)  Upon the filing of a verified petition by a
57grandparent for visitation, the court shall hold a preliminary
58hearing to determine whether the petitioner has made a prima
59facie showing that the denial of visitation has caused, or is
60likely to cause, demonstrable harm to the minor's health,
61safety, or welfare. Absent such showing, the court shall dismiss
62the petition and shall award reasonable attorney's fees and
63costs to be paid by the petitioner to the respondent.
64     (4)  If the court finds that there is prima facie evidence
65that the denial of visitation has caused, or is likely to cause,
66demonstrable harm to the minor's health, safety, or welfare, the
67court may appoint a guardian ad litem and shall order the matter
68to family mediation as provided in s. 752.015.
69     (5)  If mediation fails to yield a resolution, the court
70may order a home-study investigation or a professional
71evaluation of the minor pursuant to the Florida Family Law Rules
72of Procedure, absent the availability of comparable evidence of
73the findings expected from such investigation or evaluation.
74     (6)  After conducting a hearing on the issue of visitation,
75the court may award reasonable visitation to the grandparent
76with respect to the minor if the court finds by clear and
77convincing evidence that the denial of visitation has caused, or
78is likely to cause, demonstrable harm to the minor's health,
79safety, or welfare, and that visitation with the grandparent
80will alleviate or mitigate such harm.
81     (7)  In assessing demonstrable harm under subsection (6),
82the court shall consider the totality of the circumstances
83affecting the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of the
84minor, including:
85     (a)  The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing
86between the minor and the grandparent, including those resulting
87from the relationship that had been previously allowed by the
88minor's parent.
89     (b)  The length and quality of the prior relationship
90between the minor and the grandparent, including the extent to
91which the grandparent was involved in providing regular care and
92support to the minor.
93     (c)  Whether the grandparent established, or attempted to
94establish, ongoing personal contact with the minor.
95     (d)  The reasons the parent made the decision to end
96contact or visitation between the minor and the grandparent
97which had been previously allowed by the parent.
98     (e)  Whether there has been demonstrable significant mental
99or emotional harm to the minor as the result of disruption in
100the family unit, for which the minor derived support and
101stability from the grandparental relationship, and whether the
102continuation of that support and stability is likely to prevent
103further harm.
104     (f)  The existence or threat of mental injury to the minor
105as defined in s. 39.01.
106     (g)  The present mental, physical, and emotional needs and
107health of the minor.
108     (h)  The present mental, physical, and emotional health of
109the grandparent.
110     (i)  The recommendations of the minor's guardian ad litem,
111if one is appointed.
112     (j)  The results of the home study investigation or
113professional evaluation of the minor, if one is ordered pursuant
114to subsection (5).
115     (k)  The preference of the minor, if the minor is
116determined to be of sufficient maturity to express a preference.
117     (l)  If a parent is deceased, any written testamentary
118statement by the deceased parent requesting that visitation with
119the grandparent be granted or stating a belief that such
120visitation would reduce or mitigate demonstrable significant
121mental or emotional harm to the minor resulting from the
122parent's death. The absence of such a testamentary statement
123does not provide evidence that the deceased parent would have
124objected to the requested visitation.
125     (m)  Whether the parents of the minor disagree on whether
126to allow, or the extent of, grandparental visitation.
127     (n)  Whether the visitation will materially harm the
128parent-child relationship.
129     (o)  Such other factors as the court considers necessary in
130making its determination.
131     (8)  Part II of chapter 61, the Uniform Child Custody
132Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, applies to actions brought
133under this chapter.
134     (9)  If separate actions under this section and s. 61.13
135are pending concurrently, courts are strongly encouraged to
136consolidate the actions in order to minimize the burden of
137litigation of grandparental visitation on the minor and the
138parties.
139     (10)  An order for grandparental visitation may be modified
140upon a showing by the person petitioning for modification of a
141substantial change in circumstances and that modifying
142visitation is in the best interest of the minor.
143     (11)  An original action requesting visitation under this
144section may be filed by a grandparent only once during any 2-
145year period, except on good cause shown that the denial of
146visitation has caused, or is likely to cause, demonstrable harm
147to the minor's health, safety, or welfare, which was not known
148to the grandparent at the time of filing an earlier action.
149     (12)  If a grandparent has been granted visitation pursuant
150to this section and such visitation has been unreasonably denied
151or otherwise unreasonably interfered with by the minor's parent,
152the grandparent may file a motion with the court for enforcement
153of visitation.
154     (a)  Upon filing the motion, the court shall direct the
155parties to mediation and set a hearing on the merits of the
156motion.
157     (b)  After completion of any mediation ordered pursuant to
158paragraph (a), the mediator shall submit the record of mediation
159termination and a summary of the parties' agreement, if any, to
160the court. Upon receipt of the record and summary, the court
161shall enter an order in accordance with the parties' agreement,
162if any.
163     (c)  If, after conducting a hearing, the court finds that
164the visitation has been unreasonably denied or otherwise
165unreasonably interfered with by the parent, the court shall
166enter an order providing for one or more of the following:
167     1.  A specific visitation schedule.
168     2.  Visitation that compensates for the visitation denied
169or otherwise interfered with, which may be of the same type as
170the visitation denied or otherwise interfered with, including
171holidays, weekdays, weekends, summers, and at the convenience of
172the grandparent.
173     3.  Assessment of reasonable attorney's fees, mediation
174costs, and court costs against the parent.
175     (d)  If the court finds that the motion for enforcement of
176visitation has been unreasonably filed or pursued by the
177grandparent, the court may assess reasonable attorney's fees,
178mediation costs, and court costs against the grandparent.
179     (13)  The court may not grant grandparental visitation to a
180minor child subsequent to a final order of adoption of that
181child except as provided in s. 752.071.
182     (14)  Section 57.105 applies to actions brought under this
183chapter.
184     (15)  Venue is in the county where the grandchild primarily
185resides, unless venue is otherwise governed by chapter 39,
186chapter 61, or chapter 63.
187     Section 2.  Section 752.015, Florida Statutes, is amended
188to read:
189     752.015  Mediation of visitation disputes.--It is shall be
190the public policy of this state that families resolve
191differences over grandparental grandparent visitation within the
192family. It is shall be the further public policy of this state
193that when families are unable to resolve differences relating to
194grandparental grandparent visitation that the family participate
195in any formal or informal mediation services that may be
196available. If When families are unable to resolve differences
197relating to grandparental grandparent visitation and a petition
198is filed pursuant to s. 752.011 s. 752.01, the court shall, if
199such services are available in the circuit, refer the case to
200family mediation in accordance with the Florida Family Law Rules
201of Procedure rules promulgated by the Supreme Court.
202     Section 3.  Section 752.071, Florida Statutes, is created
203to read:
204     752.071  Effect of adoption by stepparent or close
205relative.--Following the adoption of a minor child by a
206stepparent or close relative, the stepparent or close relative
207may petition the court to terminate an order granting
208grandparental visitation under this chapter which was entered
209prior to the adoption. The court may terminate the order unless
210the grandparent is able to show that the criteria of s. 752.011
211authorizing the visitation continues to be satisfied.
212     Section 4.  Sections 752.01 and 752.07, Florida Statutes,
213are repealed.
214     Section 5.  This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.


CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.
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