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FAMILY LAW ARTICLES

January 22, 2018
Can grandparents file for visitation rights in California?

It can be difficult for grandparents to accept that they may not be able to visit their grandchildren. After all, most grandparents absolutely adore their grandchildren and would heartbroken if separated from them for too long. For many grandparents, though, being unable to visit their grandchildren is an all-too-painful reality.

In these situations, grandparents often wonder whether they have a right to remain a part of their grandchildren’s lives. The laws regarding grandparents’ rights vary widely by state. While some states tend to be restrictive about grandparents’ rights, California is more permissive. That means that grandparents may still be able to exercise their rights to visit their grandchildren.

Grandparents’ rights in California

California, though comparatively permissive, still has strict standards for grandparental rights. Typically, a grandparent can file for rights in only a few scenarios. These include:

  • The grandparent is joined in the suit by one of the parents
  • One of the child’s parents is deceased
  • The parents are not married

It is very difficult for grandparents to successfully file for rights when a child’s parents are still married. There are very strict conditions that must be met.

  • The child’s parents must be living separately
  • One of the parent’s whereabouts have been unknown for over at least a month
  • A stepparent has adopted the child
  • Neither parent lives with the child

So, how does a court determine whether to grant rights to the grandparents? The litigants must convince the court that they have a pre-existing relationship with their grandchild that has engendered a close bond. The grandparents must successfully argue that the termination of this relationship would cause demonstrable suffering to the child. This standard is very difficult to prove, and grandparents who are petitioning for rights may need the help of a lawyer. The court’s decision will also rest on whether a relationship with the grandparents would be in the best interests of the child.

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