Are you a grandparent? Do you wish to have visitation rights with your grandchild or grandchildren? This may be a possibility here in California. However, and as discussed in detail below, certain requirements must be met before you, the grandparent, can be granted such visitation rights.
This process can be convoluted. For this reason, it is important to hire an attorney to guide you through this complex process. The family law lawyers of Berenji & Associates are here for you. Contact us today to schedule a FREE consultation.
Grandparents’ Visitation Rights in California
Per California law, if you are a grandparent, you may request the court for reasonable visitation with your grandchild. However, certain requirements must be met before you will be granted such visitation.
For one, the court must find that you, as the grandparent, have a pre-existing relationship with your grandchild. The court must find, from the evidence presented, that a “bond” existed between you and your grandchildren. The goal here is to serve the “best interest of the child.” If the court finds that a bond exists between you and your grandchild, then the court will likely find visitation rights to be in the best interest of your grandchild.
From here, the court will balance the best interest of the child in having visitation with you, with the rights of the child’s natural parents to make decisions about their child. The rights of natural parents to control, or make decisions for, the upbringing of their children is paramount.
Filing Visitations Rights While the Child’s Parents are Married
Generally, you, as the grandparent, may not file for visitation of your grandchild if that grandchild’s parents are still married. Nevertheless, as with most areas of the law, and pursuant to California’s Family Code Section 3100-3105, there are several exceptions to this rule. One exception exists when the grandchild’s parents are living separate and apart. For this exception, you must show that they are in fact living separately and not merely vacationing or taking a temporary move (for school, perhaps).
Another exception is where the grandchild’s parents are missing. Their whereabouts must be unknown for one month or more. When this happens, the court may find that the child needs a parental figure in his or her life. Thus, the court may find that it is in the best interest of the grandchild to be with his or her grandparent(s).
A third exception occurs when you petition the court for visitation of your grandchild and one of the grandchild’s parents joins you in this petition. Therefore, this occurs when the parent consents to the your visitation. The court will then determine is such visitation is in the child’s best interest.
Fourth, if the grandchild does not live with his or her parents, then you, as the grandparent, may request visitation with such grandchild. However, and again, the court must find that such visitation is in the child’s best interest.
The last exception exists where a stepparent adopts the grandchild. Clearly, when this happens, one of the child’s natural parents is out of the picture. Since one of the parents is out of the picture, our courts will allow you, as the grandparent, to request visitation rights with said grandchild.
Please note, however, if you are granted visitation rights, California law provides that said right are not permanent. If one of the above exceptions previously applied to your situation, but no longer applies, the court may, upon request of one of the grandchild’s natural parents, terminate your visitation rights.
Lastly, if you are a grandparent and are solely taking care of your grandchild and raising your grandchild, you may be interested in seeking custody, or guardianship, over the grandchild. Please click here to learn more about California’s guardianship process.
In the end, if you are a grandparent seeking visitation rights of your grandchild, it is important that you hire an attorney to assist in the process. The California child custody lawyers at Berenji & Associates have the experience and knowledge needed to represent you. Our law office is conveniently located in Beverly Hills and assists clients throughout Los Angeles including San Fernando Valley, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Santa Monica, Venice, Marina Del Rey, Westwood, Brentwood and South Bay. Contact us today to schedule a FREE consultation.