Many people agree that grandparents can be wonderful influences in the
lives of their grandchildren. Grandparents have so much to offer, such
as unconditional love, companionship, life advice, mentoring, babysitting,
and so much more. In most cases, the grandparent-grandchild relationship
is positive and its impact lasts a lifetime for the fortunate grandchild.
Sometimes though, life goes awry and there is a wedge in the grandparent’s
relationship with their grandchild. Often, this wedge or division is the
effect of a
divorce, an adoption, or the death of a parent. Other times, the grandchild is
taken away from his or her parents by CPS and placed in the foster care system.
The Role of Grandparents
“In some families, the
role of grandparenting is almost seamless, passed down from the previous generation. Everyone
wins in these families.
“Parents have someone they can talk with about parenting issues and
can trust to watch their children from time to time. Grandparents are
able to spend quality time with the grandchildren they love and complete
the circle of love. Grandchildren have champions who love them unconditionally
and are involved in their lives.
“In some of these families, the grandparents watch their grandchildren
during the day while parents work, have their grandchildren over to spend
the night on weekends, or watch their grandchildren during school breaks,”
“The special role of grandparents” published on today.com.
Are You a Grandparent?
Are you a grandparent who is interested in seeking
custody or visitation of your grandchild? If so, you’re probably very
curious about your rights, that is, if you have any legal rights toward your grandchild. In this
article, we go over grandparents’ rights to custody and visitation
in the State of California. If you have further questions after reading
this piece, we invite you to contact our firm directly for a free consultation.
Each state handles
grandparents’ rights differently. As a grandparent in California, you’re in luck. Under
California law, you do have the legal right to ask the family court for
reasonable visitation with your grandson or granddaughter. For the court
to give you reasonable visitation of your grandchild, the court will have to:
- Determine that you have a pre-existing relationship with your grandchild
and that you currently have an “endangered bond.” This means
you have a bond and its being threatened, and it would be in the best
interests of the child to grant you visitation rights, AND
- Balance the child’s best interests in regard to visitation with you
and the parents’ rights to make decisions about their own child.
Not All Grandparents Will Succeed
Are there any instances where a grandparent will not succeed in court?
Yes, unfortunately, not all grandparents will succeed in court. Generally,
grandparents are not able to ask the court for visitation rights when
the child’s parents are married, however, there are some exceptions
to the rule:
- The parents do not live together;
- One of the parents is missing and the family doesn’t know where he
or she is (and they have been missing for at least one month);
- The grandchild does not live with either Mom or Dad; or
- A stepparent has adopted the grandchild.
To learn more about a grandparent’s rights in California, see
Sections 3100-3105 of the California Family Code.
Can You Avoid Court?
It is possible for some families to resolve issues regarding a grandparent’s
visitation rights without having to go to court. One option is mediation
between you and the child’s parents if they can be easily located.
Mediation can be a healthy way to openly communicate your needs and concerns
and work toward reaching an agreement that everyone can be satisfied with,
one that is in the child’s best interests of course.
If mediation is simply not an option, that’s okay too. We understand
that families can be complicated and some custody and visitation issues
regarding grandparents cannot be resolved unless the courts are involved.
If you’re in this situation, our office can certainly offer the
legal representation you’re looking for.
Seeking Guardianship of a Grandchild
Are you a grandparent who has been raising a grandchild because the parents are
incarcerated, homeless, have a substance abuse problem, in rehab, or are absent for
another reason? If so, you may want to seek guardianship of your grandchild.
In California, when a non-parent asks the court for custody of a child
(more than visitation rights because they want the child to live with
them), it’s called “guardianship.” If it’s guardianship
you’re seeking, it will be a separate court process than if you
were seeking visitation rights of your grandchild. If you ask the court
for guardianship of your grandchild, what you’ll be asking for is
“probate guardianship.” Here’s a little info:
“A probate guardianship of the person is set up because a child is
living with an adult who is not the child’s parent, and the adult
needs a court order to make decisions on behalf of the child. Generally,
probate guardianships are for children under 18,” according to the
If you are awarded
guardianship, the child’s parents will still have their parental rights, for
example, they can ask the court for reasonable contact with their son
or daughter. If the parents become able to care for their child, the court
can end the guardianship. As a guardian, you will be supervised by the court.
Legal Assistance with a Grandparents’ Rights Case
If you need professional legal assistance with child custody or visitation
rights matter regarding your grandchild, we encourage you to
contact our firm to schedule a
free case evaluation. We would be glad to help you in any way that we can.
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