Visitation Rights of Grandparents - California
California is fairly permissive when it comes to giving court orders regarding visitation or grandchildren by grandparents.
In deciding to grant visitation rights to anyone, a court will always place the interests of the child first: for a court to order visitation, you must show that, in doing so, the child’s interests will be advanced.
However, the court has to balance the interests of the child against the traditional right of the parents to determine who has contact with their children.
There are 3 basic situations in which a California court will give grandparents a legal right to visit their grandchildren:
1. When a parent has died, a court will grant visitation rights to a close relative of that parent, if it would be in the best interests of the child.
2. If the parents divorce, a grandparent may join in the proceedings to seek visitation rights, or file a separate action on his or her own behalf. Visitation will be granted if it is in the best interests of the child.
3. If the child’s parents are not married, the grandparents may seek visitation rights.
The third situation is slightly more complex than the other 2. If visitation is opposed by both parents, or the parent with sole custody, the court will balance certain interests to see if visitation rights should be granted. There must be a strong, pre-existing relationship between the grandparent seeking visitation, and the child. The court then must balance the authority of the parents to prevent visitation against the interests of the child.
The court will presume that fit parents always act in the interests of their child, so this presumption weighs against the grandparents seeking visitation rights. The grandparents will have to present significant evidence that visitation would advance the interests of the child to overcome this presumption and obtain visitation rights.
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Last Modified: 04-11-2012 03:50 PM PDT
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