worried girl looking out windowThis is the next post in my series on the custody and visitation rights for grandparents in Melbourne and other parts of Florida. My last article discussed how grandparents can gain temporary or concurrent child custody. It must be understood that the Court will only grant temporary custody if a child has been abandoned, neglected, or abused. An experienced attorney can assist you with determining whether the circumstances rise to such a standard. This article will expand upon that discussion by analyzing steps which a grandparent can take if they believe their grandchild is in danger. If you are in need of assistance then contact my office to speak with a family law lawyer.

If you believe your grandchild is facing imminent physical harm then it is important to contact law enforcement immediately. The Department of Children and Families does not have the capacity to respond to a matter as quickly as law enforcement. It should be stressed, however, that law enforcement should only be contacted if the child is facing a situation which cannot wait. Examples of this would include the child being beaten and such harm is likely to happen within the next day or so. Other examples could include the child being exposed to criminal activity, the possibility of sexual abuse, etc. If the situation is something where the youth’s wellbeing does not require immediate removal, it is best to contact an attorney first.

Contacting an attorney allows you to determine the best course of action for ensuring your grandchild’s wellbeing. It is generally suggested that you contact counsel before calling DCF. This is due to the fact that DCF will often not take immediate action, as does law enforcement, and speaking with an attorney first can help to ensure that your claims to DCF are justified. If, instead, you make a claim to DCF that is found to be unjustified then you will likely hurt your chances of gaining visitation in the future. Counsel will assist you in determining whether a) you should move forward with a DCF claim and attempt to seek guardianship through DCF, or b) whether you should file for temporary custody, or c) whether you have other options.

It is very important that you deal with the situation through the channels discussed above as opposed to confronting the parents or otherwise attempting to take matters into your own hands. Engaging in “self-help,” which can take the form of snatching the child or engaging in confrontation against the parents, will often result in a court finding that you cannot be counted on to follow visitation orders. This will often lead to a court denying any visitation requests. Depending on the circumstances, self-help may also lead to a restraining order being issued against you or even criminal charges. These are just some of the reasons why it is vital to deal with the matter through law enforcement and through counsel.

If you or a family member are concerned for the wellbeing of a grandchild then contact my office today to speak with a Melbourne lawyer. I practice solely in the area of domestic relations law and I believe that everyone is entitled to aggressive representation. My office will give your case the attention it deserves. Contact us online or by telephone to schedule an initial consultation. We also service clients in the Brevard County cities of Titusville, Cocoa, Palm Bay, Grant, Valkaria, and Rockledge, as well as in the Indian River County areas of Fellsmere, Sebastian, Vero Beach, Indian River Shores, and Orchid.