A grandparent would never think that their right to see their grandkids could be taken away. Unfortunately, life-changing events such as death, divorce, or estrangement can force separation between grandparents and grandchildren. This breaking of families can cause desperate grandmothers and fathers seek legal action to retain their grandparent rights. All 50 states in the US have some type of grandparent visitation statute. This means that grandparents can ask to be granted the legal right to maintain a relationship with their grandchild. Each state, however, varies in who can visit and how visitation will be carried out. Only about 20 states have restrictive visitation statutes. This means that grandparents can get a court-ordered visitation only if the parents are divorcing or if both parents died. The circumstances of carrying this restrictive visitation out is also dependent on the state.
In the state of California, a grandparent can ask for reasonable visitation with a grandchild. The court must find that visitation between grandparent and grandchild is in the best interest of the grandchild. Further, the court must find that the visitation is balanced with the parent’s rights to make decisions about the child. Grandparents cannot ask for visitation rights if the parents are married. Exceptions include but are not limited to:
- The parents are living separately;
- The child does not live with either of his or her parents; or
- The grandchild has been adopted by a stepparent.
If at any point the above circumstances change, parents are legally allowed to remove grandparent visitation rights. However, before filing a petition with the court to grant these rights, make sure you are well-informed regarding the details in California’s law. In some cases, mediation between parents and grandparents could help in reaching a compromise regarding visitation with the child. It is possible to hire a mediator to assist in this process. Even if you do decide to go to court, a mediator will be required to meet with you.
It is recommended that an experienced lawyer assist in navigating you through laws regarding grandparent visitation rights. Parents can file against grandparent visitation statutes. The court has further been known to make controversial and contradictory decisions in the past. Before filing your petition, contact a family law attorney. Certified family law specialist Julia McDowell is familiar with navigating these complex child custody laws and can offer appropriate guidance to your case. Contact us at Hoover Krepelka, LLP today.