If your son or daughter separates from his or her partner or spouse, then you may assume that you can continue spending time with your grandchild similar to how you did before they split. Children often get used by exes as pawns in custody cases, though. Then there are situations in which a parent may not be awarded custody or visitation. In instances like these, you may wonder what your rights as a grandparent are.
In the state of California, a grandparent is eligible to petition a judge for visitation with his or her grandchild provided that he or she meets two conditions.
First, a grandmother or grandfather must be able to clearly prove that he or she has developed a strong bond with the child. The grandparent must also be able to show that maintaining a continued relationship with child is in the child’s best interest.
The onus falls on the judge’s shoulders to assess whether awarding a grandparent visitation with his or her grandchild infringes too much on a parent’s right to make his or her own decisions regarding the child’s upbringing and care.
While generally a grandfather or grandmother can petition for visitation rights only if the grandchild’s parents are divorced, there are some exceptions to this rule.
A grandparent may ask a judge to award him or her visitation of his or her granddaughter or grandson if the parents’ place of residence is unknown for a month or more or if the mom or dad live apart from one another.
Grandparents may also request visitation when the parents are still married if the child lives independently of both them or has been adopted as well. It’s also possible for a grandmother or grandfather to be included on a parent’s petition for visitation.
If the grandchild’s living arrangements change over time, then a child’s parents can petition for a termination of grandparents’ rights.
While many judges tend to agree that children should enjoy visitation with both of their parents unless it poses some type of harm, grandparents often have to work harder to prove how important it is for them to be in their lives. When your grandchild’s future is in question, an attorney can help you understand your next legal steps toward visitation or custody.