In California, grandparents may request reasonable visitation rights with their grandchildren. The court will consider a few factors before deciding on granting or denying the request.
To grant a grandparent visitation with a grandchild, the court has to find that there is a pre-existing relationship between the grandparent and the grandchild. This “engendered bond” shows that granting visitation rights to the grandparent is in the best interest of the child.
Next, the court will balance the best interest of the child with the rights of the parents. In particular, a judge will examine the parent’s decision making in regard to their child as well as the visitation or relationship a 3rd party may have with the child.
The Balancing Test Used by the Courts
As previously mentioned, the balancing test a judge uses involves balancing the best interest of the child with the rights of the parents. Typically, a grandparent cannot file for visitation rights if the child’s parents are still married. However, there are a few exceptions:
- The child’s parents are not living together.
- The whereabouts of a parent have been unknown for at least a month.
- One parent joins the petitioning grandparent in seeking visitation.
- The child no longer lives with either parent, or has been adopted by a stepparent.
If any of these circumstances change, then the parents can petition the court to end the grandparent’s visitation rights.
General Presumption to Allow Parents to Make Their Own Decisions
Under normal circumstances, the court assumes that parents will make decisions based on the best interest of their child. This is factored into the balancing test, and a grandparent will have to present evidence that overwhelmingly shows the best interest of the child, would be having a relationship with their grandparent.
Consulting an Attorney
Matters dealing with family law can be emotional and distressing for everyone involved. As a grandparent, if you are seeking visitation rights with your grandchild, an experienced California family law attorney can help build your case, as well as represent you in court.