When can grandparents have visitation rights in California?

In some child custody cases, the desire to have time with the children or outright custody is not limited to the biological parents. It can extend to grandparents as well. Understanding how California law deals with deciding whether or not grandparents can have visitation or custody is important for the children, the parents and the grandparents.

Grandparents are allowed to request that the court grant them a reasonable amount of visitation with the grandchild. There are certain criteria that must be in place before granting the grandparents visitation. First, there must be a preexisting relationship between grandparent and grandchild that is deemed to have created a bond between them. It must be in the best interests of the child for the relationship to continue. Second, there must be a balance between the child’s interest in having visitation with grandparents and the parents’ rights to make decisions for their child.

Generally, the grandparents will not be able to file for visitation rights if the parents are still married. There are, however, exceptions to that rule. They include: if the parents are separated; if a parent’s whereabouts are not known for a minimum of one month; if one of the parents takes part in the petition for the grandparents to have visitation; the child is not living with either of the parents; or if the grandchild was adopted by a stepparent.

With visitation for the grandparents granted through the courts, one parent or both parents can ask that the grandparents’ visitation be terminated with the court required to agree. When there is a custody dispute and it involves grandparents, it is imperative for the parents and the grandparents to have legal assistance to deal with it. Speaking to an attorney who has extensive experience in custody and visitation can be an important step.