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#35 – Grandparent’s Rights & Child Custody, An Alternative Perspective

a girl and her grandparents

#35 – Grandparent’s Rights & Child Custody, An Alternative Perspective

SUMMARY: Susan Chesnutt and her special guest Martin Kofsky talk about his recent article that focuses on the rights of grandparents. Martin has been litigating and working in family law for 30 years. Sit back and settle in for some good information and food for thought.


[00:01:45] The discussion begins with Martin describing his experience with offending and non offending parents and what that means for the rights of the child.
[00:03:00] Martin gives an example of a case where the maternal grandparent’s rights of the child were being threatened. The child was cared for by them for 5 years and then the other grandparents attempt to insert control.
[00:05:15] What happens when a set of grandparents has never tried to have a relationship with the child? What does the law say or not say in these circumstances?
[00:06:15] Susan asks very important questions about the child’s constitutional rights because of the death of a parent and in the care of a grandparent.
[00:08:00] Martin and Susan deep dive on a Florida statute as it relates to when a reunification happens and its narrow minded pitfalls. They help clarify guardian ad litem, dependency and those assigned to the child’s well being. This can get complicated.
[00:10:30] The discussion takes a hard turn on the realities of addressing abuse of the child in question. The process is never cut and dry.
[00:13:30] How do you define and describe the intensity of a relationship? Let’s dive in on that question
[00:16:15] Susan reveals a staggering statistic on how many children live with their grandparents. There are a large number of children not being raised by their parents.
[00:17:30] Martin explains the deployment statute and all that it entails to soldiers and sailors who are parents; the phrase “equal protection” comes into play. Tune in for the intriguing perspective.
[00:21:00] Susan circles back again to the dependency statute and the intensity of relationships the child has with extended family. Martin dives in on the military framing around one parent who is serving and one who is not, these situations can get very complicated.
[00:24:30] Relocation situations are typically never in the child’s best interest. What is the best solution when a former spouse is married to someone in the military and relocation on one side is necessary. You will want to hear more about this topic.
[00:26:45] Martin goes through a tough case that will give you context on what the court needs to show when a parent relocates and the other parent wants the children to stay where they are as the primary residence.
[00:29:15] When divorce is involved, grandparents have absolutely no standing in a divorce at all. Non.
[00:32:45] Susan asks Martin a hypothetical, if he could write a grandparents right statute, what would it entail?


Martin Kofsky: as it pertains to grandparents rights in Florida
“the rights are limited when there is a parent who’s deceased. There can be some room for a grandparent to have a relationship with the child, but still this, the rights of the surviving parent remain paramount.”

Martin Kofsky: “It’s easy to identify bruises. It’s easy to identify cigarette burns. It’s easy to identify strap marks from a belt. It’s much harder to identify and quantify the emotional scars that might’ve been caused by, years of emotional or psychological abuse,”

Susan Chesnutt: in regards to dependency statute in Florida
“When you said that the statutes were hypocritical, is that the dependency statute on the grandparents rights goes so far to say that the grandparents should be able to show affection and give gifts and letters from the grandparents or other family.”
Susan Chesnutt: “I’ve read a statistic today that 7% of the children in the United States live with a grandparent or grandparents…To me, that’s a big number of kids who are not with their parents, for whatever reason.”
Susan Chesnutt: “This has been fantastic. I will say hands down, totally honest, the best conversation I’ve had about grandparents’ rights since I’ve been a lawyer.”



Susan Chesnutt

Martin Kofsky

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