Experienced Grandparent’s Rights Attorney
Law Firm Specializing in Grandparent’s Rights Cases Filed in the Inland Empire of Southern California
Parents can always choose to allow grandparents visitation with their children, without a court order. For various reasons, however, some parents stop allowing their children time with their grandparents. California law provides that a grandparent may request the court for reasonable visitation with their grandchild under certain circumstances. However, certain requirements must be met before you will be granted such visitation.
Grandparent’s Rights in California
Under California law, when the parents of a child are divorced or when one parent has died, grandparents can petition the court for reasonable visitation with a grandchild. To grant this request, the court must:
- Find that there was a preexisting relationship between grandparent and grandchild that has “engendered a bond.” Such a bond would make it in the best interests of the child to maintain a relationship between grandparent and grandchild by ordering the visitation; and
- Balance the best interests of the child in having visitation and a relationship with his or her grandparent against the rights of the parent(s) to make decisions about their child.
The fundamental rights of natural parents to control, or make decisions for, the upbringing of their children is paramount, but not absolute. Children have a fundamental right to maintain healthy, stable relationships with a person who has served in a significant, judicially approved parental role.
What Must a Grandparent Prove to Get Visitation with a Grandchild in California – Family Code § 3102 – § 3105
A judge deciding a grandparent’s visitation case begins with the presumption that grandparent visitation shouldn’t be allowed if both parents (or one parent with sole custody) agree that the grandparent shouldn’t have visitation. It is the grandparent’s burden to prove to the court that visitation is in the child’s best interests.
When determining whether visitation is in a child’s best interests, courts consider many factors, including:
- The health, safety, and well-being of the child;
- Any history of domestic abuse by anyone seeking custody or visitation;
- The use of drugs or alcohol by anyone seeking custody or visitation, and
- The nature and frequency of contact between the child and the person seeking custody.
Generally, grandparents cannot file for visitation rights when the child’s parents are still married, unless:
- The parents are living separately and apart on a permanent or indefinite basis;
- One of the parent’s whereabouts have been unknown for at least a month;
- One of the parents joins the grandparent’s petition for visitation;
- The child does not live with either parent;
- The child has been adopted by a stepparent; or
- One of the parents is incarcerated or involuntarily institutionalized.
If a grandparent has court-ordered visitation based on one of the above scenarios, and circumstances change such that none of these exceptions apply anymore, one or both parents can ask the court to terminate grandparent visitation. For example, if the parents are separated, but move back in with each other, they can request that grandparent visitation end.
When a court grants a grandparent visitation with a child, the judge may also order a parent or grandparent to pay child support for limited purposes, such as transportation, medical expenses, day care costs, or other necessities. For example, if a child must fly or take other transportation to reach the grandparent for visitation, the court may order the grandparent to pay the transportation costs directly to the child’s parent.
How to Ask the Court for Grandparent Visitation Rights
Under the law, a grandparent who wants to ask the court to order visitation with a grandchild can file a “petition” in court. However, aside from a few local county forms, there are currently no official court forms specifically for this purpose. For this reason, it can be difficult to figure out exactly how to file this “petition.”
In the event there is an existing family law case between the child’s parents (i.e. divorce, legal separation, parentage, etc.), a grandparent may be able to ask for visitation under the existing cases. If there is no existing family law case involving the grandchild and his/her parents, the grandparent would have to file a petition with the family court, starting a case from scratch.
If no preexisting family law case existed, the law requires the grandparent to have the petition for grandparent’s visitation personally served on the parents (and, stepparents and anyone else who has physical custody of the grandchild). If the petition was filed under a preexisting family law case involving the grandchild and the parents, the parents (and stepparent or other person with physical custody) may be served with the documents by certified mail, return receipt requested with postage prepaid.
Keep in mind that, if possible, it is generally best for families to try to resolve these issues out of court. Mediation between the grandparent(s) and the grandchild’s parents is a way to openly and safely discuss the issues and concerns of everyone involved to try to reach an agreement that is in the best interests of the grandchild, without jeopardizing the relationship between the grandparent and the grandchild’s parents
- Refer to our Free Child Custody and Visitation Agreement
Knowledgeable Grandparent’s Rights Attorneys Offering Free Consultations
Our experience inside and outside of the courtroom allows us to consistently deliver exceptional results for the families we represent. Our grandparent’s rights attorneys are interested in finding creative, tailored solutions to each family’s problems, using the facts and investigative tactics necessary to produce real-time solutions for our clients.
If you are a grandparent and you are raising your grandchildren either because the parents are absent or are unable to care for their children (like if they are on drugs or in jail), you should contact a guardianship attorney. When a non-parent seeks custody of a child (and not just visitation rights to see the child) it is called guardianship, and there is a separate court process for guardianships.
Contact Our Experienced California Grandparent’s Rights Attorney Now
Grandparents seeking court-ordered visitation with their grandchildren, and parents seeking to prevent a non-qualifying grandparent from obtaining such orders, can rely on the experience of our Riverside grandparent’s rights attorneys. Our Southern California family law firm fights hard to make the legal system work for our clients. Our attorneys have litigated grandparent’s rights cases throughout the State of California, including Riverside, Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties. Call the experienced family law attorneys at Talkov Law at (951) 888-3300 or contact us online for a free consultation about your case. Learn how our experienced grandparent’s rights attorney, Colleen Sparks, can guide you through the court process in a prompt and clear manner.