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Grandparents' Rights in California


Grandparents are heavily involved in the lives of their grandchildren in many Californian families. But when the child’s parents separate or divorce, grandparents may wonder if they can still visit their grandkids.

According to California family law, parents may grant grandparents visitation with their children – without a court order. On the other hand, if a parent prohibits their child’s grandparents to see them, then the grandparents may file a petition for visitation rights with the court.

If the grandchild’s parents are going through a divorce or paternity case, then the grandparents may join that case and request visitation rights. The courts won’t accept a petition for grandparent visitation when the child’s parents are still married unless the parents are separated, one parent joins the grandparents’ petition for visitation, one parent has been missing for about a month, the child does not live with either parent, a stepparent adopted the child or one parent is imprisoned or involuntarily institutionalized.

When grandparents file for visitation rights, they must serve a copy of the petition to each of the child’s parents and/or anyone who has physical custody of the child. All grandparents’ visitation cases will automatically undergo mediation.

If the matter is not resolved in mediation, then the case will proceed to a court hearing. Although the court already has a presumption that grandparent visitation should be denied if both parents oppose, grandparents must establish a pre-existing relationship with their grandchildren and prove that visitation is in the child’s best interests.

Common factors to determine a child’s best interests include:

  • The child’s health and well-being

  • The nature and frequency of contact between the grandparents and the child

  • Any history of domestic violence or alcohol/drug use in the child’s home

  • Both parents are deemed unfit

  • One parent is deemed unfit, and the other parent cannot or will not care for the child

  • The child’s opinion, if the child is at least 14 years old

Additionally, grandparents may seek custody of their grandchildren if their parents are unable to care for them. The court will attempt to grant custody to a person in the child’s residence, if it is a stable and wholesome environment. On the other hand, if the child isn’t living with either parent or in another stable home, then the court may grant legal custody to any relative that demonstrates they can provide care and guidance for the child, such as a grandparent.

If you are interested in obtaining grandparent visitation rights in Fresno, contact Arnold Law Group, APC today at (559) 900-1263 for a confidential consultation. Our firm has more than three decades of experience helping thousands of satisfied clients.

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