Southern California Family Law Blog

grandparent visitation rights

Do you have the legal right to visitation with your grandchild?

If you’re like most grandparents, you likely have a strong loving attachment to your grandchildren. A divorce or separation between the child’s parents can have a devastating effect on your relationship with your grandchild.

As a grandparent, it is important for you to know that in California, you as a grandparent can generally request reasonable visitation with your grandchild as long as the court finds that:

  • You have a preexisting relationship with your grandchild enough to have established a bond so that it’s in the child’s best interest; and
  • The parents’ constitutional right to make decisions about their child’s upbringing does not greatly outweigh the benefit of visitation.1

However, the court will not allow you to make such a request while your grandchild’s parents are still married unless one of the following exceptions apply:2

  • The parents are currently separated;
  • One parent has been absent from home for more than one month;
  • One parent approves your request/petition for visitation;
  • The child is not living with either parent;
  • The child has been adopted by a stepparent;
  • One parent is currently incarcerated or institutionalized; OR
  • One parent is deceased.3


Presumption Not in the Best Interest of the Child

If the parents both agree that you should not be granted visitation rights, there is a rebuttable presumption that grandparent visitation rights are not in the child’s best interest. This presumption means that the court is inclined to believe that you should not have visitation rights unless you prove otherwise. This does not mean that you cannot fight for visitation rights, but is all the more reason you should retain an experienced family law attorney to present clear and convincing evidence to help you establish visitation rights with your grandchild.

Visitation Rights When Your Grandchild Lives Out of State

Another common situation is where the child’s parents get divorced and then the custodial parent decides to move your grandchild out of state. Historically, this situation would have required you to obtain new, separate visitation rights in the state where the child moves. That is until the Visitation Rights Enforcement Act was enacted in 1998.

The Act mandates that grandparents who have visitation rights in one state can lawfully enforce that visitation order in all states. For example, if you’ve already been awarded visitation rights in California, but following your son’s divorce, your grandchild moves to Nevada with his or her mother, your rights are protected under the Act. Whether you already have a visitation order in any state outside of California or you need to file for a petition to establish visitation rights in California, our skilled family law attorneys can help you be reunited with your grandchild.

Contact an Experienced Grandparent Visitation Attorney Today

The family law attorneys at Wallin & Klarich are experienced and skillful in helping clients with grandparent visitation issues. Our attorneys have been successfully representing our clients who wish to obtain visitation rights for over 30 years. We can help you now.

With offices located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich grandparent visitation attorney available near you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (888) 749-7428 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.

1. Cal. Fam. Code, § 3104(a)

2. Cal. Fam. Code, § 3104(b)

3. Cal. Fam. Code, § 3102(a)

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