Grandparents’ Visitation Rights In California

Grandparents in California might run into a situation where they feel they need to petition a court to mandate visitation with a grandchild. While California law allows grandparents to petition for this, it can only be filed if certain conditions are met.

First, the court needs to determine if the visitation is in the best interest of the grandchild. For this to happen, it must be shown that the grandparents and the grandchild had a pre-existing relationship and that a bond had formed between them. The court also needs to balance the best interest of the child in having visitations with the grandparents and the right of the child’s parents to make decisions affecting their child.

Second, under California family law, a petition for visitation with a grandchild cannot be filed if the grandchild’s parents are married unless the case meets one of five exceptions. These exceptions include a parent joining the grandparents in the petition, the parents living separately, the whereabouts of one parent being unknown for at least a month, a child being adopted by a stepparent and a child who is not living with the parents.

It is usually recommended that families attempt to resolve visitation issues outside of court, even with the help of a mediator. However, if this is not possible, grandparents have two ways under which they can file the petition. One way is to file a petition under an open case related to a child, such as in a divorce, a child custody case, a child support case or even a domestic violence case involving a restraining order. If there is no open case, the grandparents can file to open one. While there are no official state forms to ask for visitations, some of the local courts have created their own forms for this purpose.