How California Family Law Protects Grandparents’ Visitation Rights

After a divorce or separation, grandparents in
California may be left wondering whether they will still be allowed to visit
their grandchildren.

There are certain guidelines in the state that deal with grandparents’ visitation rights.

Below are a few things you should know about grandparents’ rights after a divorce.

Grandparents can ask for visitation

Parents can always try to arrange grandparent visitation without a court order. However, in some cases, parents attempt to bar grandparents from visiting their grandchildren, in which case the grandparent may wish to petition the court for visitation rights.

Courts will not accept petitions for grandparent visitation if the parents are still married, unless there are extenuating circumstances such as a separation, the child is not living with either parent, the child has been adopted by a stepparent or one of the parents is incarcerated.

Grandparents that choose to file for visitation rights must serve a copy of the petition to each parent, stepparent and anyone else with physical custody of the child. Courts will automatically send these cases to mediation and, if the parties are unable to settle the matter, the case will be heard by the court.

A judge who oversees a grandparent visitation case will start by assuming grandparent visitation should not be allowed if both parents agree the grandparent should not have any visitation rights. However, grandparents can attempt to prove visitation is in the best interests of the child. In these cases, courts will consider:

  • •The child’s safety, wellbeing and general health
  • •Any history of domestic abuse by people seeking custody or visitation
  • •Each person’s use of alcohol and drugs
  • •The nature and frequency of contact between the person seeking custody and the child

Judges will carefully consider the preexisting relationship the child has with the grandparent, and whether it is in the best interest of the child to continue that relationship. The court will also weigh the parents’ prerogative to deny visitation. In cases in which the child is 14 or older, the court will also consider the child’s opinion on the matter.

If a parent passes away, the court can grant visitation to the deceased parent’s parents if it is deemed to be in the best interests of the children.

If you are considering seeking grandparents’ visitation, it is important you seek consult an attorney regarding the viability of your claims and the possible obligations you may face if your request is granted.

To learn more about visitation rights for grandparents in the state of California, speak with a Fresno divorce lawyer at The Law Office of Rebecca Medina.

Rebecca Medina - Fresno Family Law Attorney
About the Author: Rebecca Medina
Rebecca Medina is an experienced family law attorney serving the Fresno area. She handles cases ranging from complex divorce matters to child custody, spousal support, domestic violence, and uncontested divorce cases. She was rated "Clients' Choice" by Avvo.