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Grandparents' Rights in California

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Are you a grandparent who would like to have visitation with your grandchild? Under California law, you have the ability to ask for reasonable visitation of your grandchild. However, certain requirements must be met first.

In order for the court to grant your request for visitation, the court must:

  • Determine that you had a pre-existing relationship with your grandchild and your “bond” is endangered. Meaning, you have a bond with your grandchild and granting visitation would be in the best interests of the child, and
  • Balance your grandchild’s best interests by granting visitation with you, and the rights of the child’s parents to make decisions for their child.

Generally, a grandparent cannot ask the court for visitation rights while the child’s parents are still married, unless any of the following exceptions apply:

  • The parents do not live together
  • One of the child’s parents cannot be located (gone for at least one month)
  • The child does not live with their mother or father
  • A stepparent has adopted the grandchild

Please note that if you are granted visitation and one of the above exceptions no longer apply, one or both of the child’s parents can ask the court to end your visitation and the court must comply with this request.

Have you been raising your grandchild?

In many circumstances, a grandparent is closely involved in raising a child, for example, the grandparent lives with one of the child’s parents and cares for them almost full-time. Other times, the grandparent raises the child and the child’s biological parents having little to no involvement in the child’s upbringing.

If you’ve been raising your grandchild because their parents were unable to raise them, for instance, because they had a substance abuse problem, because they were incarcerated, or because they simply abandoned their child, you may want to ask the courts to become the child’s guardian.

When a grandparent wants custody of the grandchild, not only visitation, it’s called “guardianship,” and the process is different than asking for visitation.

If you are interested in seeking visitation of your grandchild, contact the Los Angeles family law attorneys at Claery & Hammond, LLP.


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