Receiving visitation rights as grandparents

An important relationship affected significantly by divorce includes children and their grandparents. Especially when a judge grants sole custody to one parent, visitation rights of grandparents of the other parent often prove overlooked.

In the state of California, grandparents may file for visitation rights. Though the best interest of the child describes the first priority of the court, a judge may award grandparents time to see their grandchildren. Grandparents with a positive relationship with grandchildren have the ability to seek legal rights to continue their special bond.

Visitation elements and exceptions

After filing a petition to receive reasonable visitation rights, a judge may review the application and follow these criteria:

  1. First, a court must establish that a pre-existing relationship was apparent between you and your grandchildren.
  2. Assuming that a relationship exists, a court will balance the best interest of the child with the rights of the parents. Alienating parents, especially a sole custody parent, must be avoided.

Grandparents have exceptions to the application process of visitation rights if the arrangement involves married parents. According to California law, grandparents may not file for visitation rights if the parents are married unless:

  • Parents are living separately
  • A parent’s whereabouts are unknown
  • One parent joins the grandparents for visitation
  • The child does not live with either parent
  • The grandchild has been adopted by a stepparent
  • One parent is incarcerated

Type of visitation

A significant element to your visitation application involves identifying the type of visitation schedule and reasons for that schedule. To receive the visitation amount that you feel benefits both you and your grandchildren, identify the positive aspects of your relationship as well as why your grandchildren would benefit from scheduled contact with you.

Divorce may prove stressful, and grandparents may feel blind-sided and barred from seeing their grandchildren. Should you be able to identify and describe your relationship with your grandchildren, the California court may work with your family to give you visitation rights.

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