Grandparents' Visitation Rights in California

If you’re a grandparent, you may be wondering if you can have any type of visitation rights in California. Since the laws vary from state to state, this is a reasonable question to ask indeed. As a grandparent in California, you are in luck. It is possible to ask the court for visitation rights in certain circumstances.

Under California law, grandparents have the right to ask the family courts for reasonable visitation with their grandchild as long as the grandparent meets the criteria.

For a court to grant a grandparent reasonable visitation of a grandchild, the court must: 1) determine the grandparent had a pre-existing relationship with their grandchild and that for some reason their bond is endangered, and 2) the court must balance the child’s best interests (regarding visitation with the grandparent) with the parents’ rights to make decisions about their child.

What if the Parents Are Married?

Are your grandchild’s parents still married? If so, you may not be able to ask for visitation. Generally, grandparents are not able to ask for visitation rights if the grandchild’s parents are married to each other, but there are some exceptions:

  • The parents do not live together;
  • One of the parents cannot be located (and it’s been at least one month);
  • One of the parents decides to join the grandparents’ visitation petition;
  • The grandchild does not live with either one of their parents; or
  • The grandchild was adopted by their stepparent.

The California Courts suggest that grandparents try to resolve their visitation issues out of court. Sometimes, mediation between the grandparents and the child’s parents can help both sides reach a satisfactory visitation arrangement. However, some grandparents have no choice but to go to court, especially when their ex son or daughter in law has primary physical custody of the grandchild and won’t let the grandparents see him or her.

If you’re a grandparent who is seeking visitation rights of your grandchild, contact Claery & Hammond, LLP to explore your legal options in a free case evaluation.