Can Grandparents Be Awarded Visitation Rights When One of the Natural Parents Dies ?
In Von Eiff v. Azicri, 720 So. 2d 510 (Fla. 1998), this Court held section 752.01(1)(a) of the statute unconstitutional as a violation of Florida's constitutional right of privacy.
Section 752.01(1)(e), Florida Statutes (1995) provides :
(1) the court shall, upon petition filed by a grandparent of a minor child, award reasonable rights of visitation to the grandparent with respect to the child when it is in the best interest of the minor child if:
(e) the minor is living with both natural parents who are still married to each other whether or not there is a broken relationship between either or both parents of the minor child and the grandparents, and either or both parents have used their parental authority to prohibit a relationship between the minor child and the grandparents.
The grandparents in Von Eiff contended that they had played an active role in the first two years of the child's life, but that soon after the biological mother died they were denied unsupervised visitation with their grandchild. 720 So. 2d at 512.
While expressing sympathy for the grandparents' predicament in Von Eiff, this Court found that the biological and adoptive parents possessed a constitutional right of privacy in their decision to limit the grandparents' visitation with their child, stating:
We recognize that it must hurt deeply for the grandparents to have lost a daughter and then be denied time alone with their granddaughter.
We are not insensitive to their plight.
However, familial privacy is grounded on the right of parents to rear their children without unwarranted governmental interference. See id. at 516.