Grandparents’ visitation rights have a dedicated section in the California family code.
While it’s up to the court to decide on each case, there are situations where the grandparents can petition for visitation rights with their grandchildren. When can Grandparents request visitation rights in California?
In the California Family Code, grandparents can request visitation rights if one of the following scenarios apply:
- One of the parents dies.
- Suppose there is a pending case in the California family court where custody of the kid(s) is up for questioning. For this to apply, there has to be no decision put forward by the judge in the case yet.
- The parents are no longer bound in matrimony. This circumstance also includes couples that never were lawfully married as required by US state law.
- The parents are still legally married, but there is a permanent separation in place.
If the parents are not legally married, the family court can investigate the matter before determining grandparents’ visitation rights. This investigation determines if there is a relationship between the child in question and grandparents based on their existing situation. Considering any proven relationship, the court will weigh this against parents’ legal and ethical right to raise their kids on their own. If the court deems the request valid, they have the power to force arrangements into order.
If the above situation doesn’t apply, and the parents are still married, it complicates matters considerably. In such cases, the following scenarios must be fulfilled:
- The parents have a permanent separation in place.
- One parent has been absent from the relationship for at least one month, without their partner knowing their whereabouts.
- One of the parents supports the grandparents’ petition for visitation rights.
- The child doesn’t live with either parent.
- A stepparent has adopted the child.
If at least one of the five scenarios above apply to the situation, the grandparents can request a petition for visitation rights through the court. If the basis for granting grandparents visitation rights no longer apply, the court’s privileges might be revoked if requested by the parents.
What about cases where both parents oppose grandparents’ petition for visitation request? The Family Court of California does not want to trump parental rights unless there are extreme or unusual circumstances. The courts will take the child’s best interest into consideration and rule, accordingly, as mandated by California child custody laws.
Then is the situation where both parents are present, but one holds sole legal custody of the child. If the child’s legal guardian opposes grandparents’ visitation rights, the court has ruled the presumptions do not apply.
It does not mean it is impossible to request grandparent’s visitation rights in such situations. Grandparents will have to prove that visitation rights are in the child’s best interest in front of a California Family court. If grandparents can prove this in court, Family law allows the court to grant visitation rights despite parental objection.
Courts have the power through family law to grant or deny requests from both sides. In a case with no common ground between grandparents and parents, the child’s best interest will always go first.