When it comes to visitation and custody, grandparents also have rights under California law. If you are a grandparent seeking to establish your rights regarding your grandchildren, consult with an experienced family law attorney to help guide you through the legal process.
Why Seek Grandparent Rights?
Grandparents play an important role in the lives of their grandchildren. Oftentimes, grandparents seek rights to visitation or custody when they believe it to be in the best interest of the child. There are a variety of reasons for grandparents to file for rights, including:
- The child is being neglected or abused
- The parents are suffering from physical or mental health problems
- The parents are dealing with substance abuse
- The parents are facing unemployment or otherwise unable to provide for their child
- The parents are incarcerated or otherwise unable to care for their child
Legal Basis for Grandparent Rights
California Family Code Section 3100 provides that the court can grant reasonable visitation rights to any person having an interest in the welfare of a child, including grandparents. Typically, parents have the power to decide when their child sees their grandparents. However, in some cases, grandparents can petition the court to order visitation. This usually occurs if the child’s parents aren’t married, or if they are married but live apart. If the child’s parents are married, grandparents typically cannot file for visitation unless:
- The child does not live with either parent
- The child has been adopted by a stepparent
- A parent is incarcerated or institutionalized
- A parent’s whereabouts are unknown
- One of the parents joins the grandparent’s petition for visitation
In limited cases, a judge may order grandparent visitation. Under California Family Code Section 3104, the court must find that:
- There is an existing bond between the grandparents and child such that visitation is in the best interest of the child
- The child’s best interest to see the grandparents outweigh the parent’s rights to make decisions about their child
How to File for Grandparent Rights
If you are a grandparent who is considering filing a case, you must first find out if there is an open case between the parents of the child. If there is an open divorce or paternity case, you may need to file a joinder in order to join the existing case. If there is no open case between the parents, you will need to file a new case by creating a petition and request for an order of visitation rights. While some counties provide a local court form that can be used as a petition, others do not have an official petition form. As such, a good place to start is to obtain an experienced family law attorney who can advise you throughout the complex legal process.
If you are still unsure whether filing a case is the right choice for you, you may want to consider meeting with a private mediator or counselor first. Starting a court case may cause unwanted tension between your family. On the other hand, mediation between you and the child’s parents may help you avoid court and build a better relationship. Mediation is a way to openly and safely discuss your needs and concerns and to try to reach an agreement that is in the child’s best interest.
Contact Wallin & Klarich Today
If you need an experienced family law attorney or mediator, contact Wallin & Klarich today to see how we can help. With 40+ years of experience, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have helped thousands of clients successfully attain visitation and custody rights to their children and grandchildren. We understand how tough these cases can be, but we will do everything in our power to keep you from being separated from your loved ones.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available Wallin and Klarich office near you.
Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.