St. Petersburg Times Online: News of Florida
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather
  • Fasano's firm eyed state job
  • Counties may help pay for vote reforms
  • A tedious method to scoring writing
  • Resentencing ordered on eve of execution
  • Senate okays grandparents rights
  • Law shields gunmakers from suits
  • Senators back off move to give felons the vote

  • From the state wire

  • Hurricane Jeanne appears on track to hit Florida's east coast
  • Rumor mill working overtime after Florida hurricanes
  • Developments associated with Hurricanes Ivan and Jeanne
  • Four killed in Panhandle plane crash were on Ivan charity mission
  • Hurricane Frances caused estimated $4.4 billion in insured damage
  • Disabled want more handicapped-accessible voting machines
  • USF forces administrators to resign over test score changes
  • Man's death at Universal Studios ruled accidental
  • State child welfare workers in Miami fail to do background checks
  • Hurricane Jeanne heads toward southeast U.S. coast
  • Hurricane Jeanne spurs more anxiety for storm-weary Floridians
  • Mistrial declared in case where teen was target of racial "joke"
  • Panhandle utility wants sewer plant moved to higher ground
  • State employee arrested on theft, bribery charges
  • Homestead house fire kills four children, one adult
  • Pierson leader tries to cut off relief to local fern cutters
  • Florida's high court rules Terri's law unconstitutional
  • Jacksonville students punished for putting stripper pole in dorm
  • FEMA handling nearly 600,000 applications for help
  • Man who killed wife, niece, self also killed mother in 1971
  • Producer sues city over lead ball fired by Miami police
  • Tourism suffers across Florida after pummeling by hurricanes
  • Key dates in the life of Terri Schiavo
  • An excerpt from the unanimous ruling in the Schiavo case
  • Four confirmed dead after small plane crash in Panhandle
  • Correction: Disney-Cruise Line story

    printer version

    Senate okays grandparents rights

    The bill, awaiting House approval, gives grandparents rights when grandchildren are endangered.


    © St. Petersburg Times, published May 2, 2001

    TALLAHASSEE -- After a prolonged and emotional debate across several days, the Senate on Tuesday narrowly approved a bill that would give some rights to grandparents who believe their grandchildren are endangered.

    Sen. Skip Campbell, D-Fort Lauderdale, introduced the bill in the wake of several Florida Supreme Court decisions that found other versions of the law unconstitutionally interfere with the rights of parents to raise their own children.

    The bill would allow grandparents who have an existing relationship with a child to go into court and ask for a formal hearing in situations where child abuse or neglect is suspected and one parent is no longer a part of the household.

    It was a subject that brought emotional appeals from senators who are grandparents. The Senate voted 19-16 in favor of the bill after Campbell amended it to remove intact families from its impact.

    A similar bill is pending in the House.

    Opponents of the bill complained that grandparents would be encouraged to meddle in the lives of their children and grandchildren.

    "We're going to allow a single mother to be dragged into court just because grandparents don't think she is treating the kids right," complained Sen. Kendrick Meek, D-Miami.

    "None of this would happen," Campbell responded. "Read the bill. This is what happens when you stand up and demagogue and don't read the bill. There has to be an established relationship with the grandparent." Campbell said he was trying to extend some rights to grandparents to act when children are in danger. Florida courts have invalidated earlier laws on the grounds that they interfere with a parent's right to raise a child free from governmental interference.

    The Florida Supreme Court in an August 2000 ruling said parents have the right to limit or exclude a child's association with a relative, including a grandparent, absent some showing that there is a substantial threat to the child's health or welfare.

    Sen. Rod Smith, D-Gainesville, said the bill would create "a whole new area of family disputes where children will be dragged into court."

    "We have to decide whether parents or grandparents will make decisions," Smith said. "The issue becomes parents versus grandparents. The parents have to make the best decision they can for the child."

    Campbell's bill would require a judge to determine whether a hearing was justified once a grandparent demonstrates that the child is in significant mental or emotional danger because of parental action.

    Back to State news
    Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
    Special Links
    Lucy Morgan

    From the Times state desk