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Understanding grandparent visitation rights

On Behalf of | May 21, 2024 | Child Custody and Visitation, Family Law

After a child’s parents, grandparents often play a vital role in their lives. However, when divorce or other major changes disrupt the family, grandparents may struggle to maintain contact with their grandkids. In California, grandparents have legal rights to seek reasonable visitation even after a divorce or separation1. Let’s explore how you can protect your family and ensure meaningful connections.

Who Decides Whether the Child Sees Their Grandparents?

Typically, parents have the authority to decide who interacts with their minor children. So, when parents file for divorce, or one of them passes away, grandparents may lose time and connection with their grandchildren. California courts recognize that maintaining a relationship with grandparents can benefit the child’s well-being. If a surviving parent or legal guardian hinders this relationship without good reason, the courts may intercede to protect the grandparent-grandchild bond. The court will consider the following:

  1. Prior relationship: Assess whether you had a previous relationship with your grandchild.
  2. Endangered link: Determine if your connection is currently at risk.
  3. Best interests: Highlight how granting visitation would benefit the child.
  4. Balancing act: Find a balance between the child’s best interests and the parent’s rights.

Seeking Grandparent Visitation Rights

Grandparents can take two different approaches. One is to join an existing family law case if the grandchildren’s parents are going through a divorce, custody, or paternity case. Grandparents can add your visitation rights request to that existing legal proceeding. The other option is filing a petition requesting grandparents’ visitation rights. They can start the process by speaking with a proven and experienced certified family law specialist. The families may be able to resolve it through mediation with the help of a lawyer, but going to court could be the only option.