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A Brief Overview of Grandparents’ Rights in California

Substance abuse. Incarceration. Death. Divorce. There are many reasons families can separate. When these types of scenarios occur, there’s often a question as to whether the mother or father of a child will have custody moving forward. But can grandparents get involved? Do grandparents have any rights in California? To put it simply, yes, grandparents do have certain legal rights in our state. They can seek visitation and even obtain custody in some cases. Let’s take a closer look?

When can grandparents exercise their rights?

Usually a grandparent cannot request legal visitation while their grandchildren’s parents are still married. However, there are exceptions such as:

  • If the parents live separately
  • One parent has been missing for a month or more
  • The child has been adopted by a stepparent
  • The child doesn’t live with either parent
  • One parent joins the grandparent’s petition for visitation

In these cases, a grandparent can petition California family court for reasonable visitation. Family court will decide whether or not to grant this request. They are more likely to say yes if you have a strong pre-existing relationship with your grandchild that has “engendered a bond.” They also consider whether or not visiting with you is in the best interest of the child and whether or not it infringes on the parents’ right to decide what’s best for their children.

If one or more of these conditions are met, then a grandparent can petition for visitation rights with the court under California law. In general, a grandparent may then ask for reasonable visitation with a grandchild, but the court will have to make a couple of determinations first. They will do two things:

This is all complicated even further when the child has been adopted by someone other than your child/their parent. 

Consult with an experienced family law attorney.

The process of petitioning for visitation as a grandparent can be very complex. It is wise to work with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the process and clear up anything you find confusing. The team at The Law Offices of Kayleene H. Writer is here to help. We have a strong understanding of California grandparents’ rights and can help you along your way. Contact us today to learn more!