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Can grandparents pursue visitation rights?

Grandparents have unique bonds with their grandchildren. You may have played an influential role in the upbringing of your grandchild, helping them with their homework, spending weekends and holidays together and more.

However, whether due to divorce or a family rift, your time with your grandchild may seem uncertain. California allows grandparents to seek visitation rights for their grandchildren. Yet, the process to do so can be complicated and depend upon your family's situation. Do you have options to remain in your grandchild's life?

Pursuing "reasonable visitation"

When your time with your grandchild is at risk, first attempt to resolve the dispute outside of the courtroom. Resolving family disputes amicably can preserve relationships and ultimately benefit the child by avoiding a potentially costly and bitter legal battle.

In some cases, such attempts may prove to be unsuccessful. Grandparents may then pursue reasonable visitation rights under California law. In determining whether to award these rights, courts must first establish a pre-existing relationship between you and the grandchild. This means proving that your relationship has formed a bond that would make visitation rights in the best interests of the child.

Then, the court must weigh potential grandparents' visitation rights with the rights of the child's parents. Courts ultimately act in the best interests of the child, which often includes preserving and encouraging the child's relationship with both parents. The court will attempt to balance these relationships when it benefits the child.

Exceptions to seeking visitation rights

One barrier to seeking reasonable visitation is the marriage of the child's parents. When the child's parents are married, you may have limited options to successfully seek visitation rights. However, there are exceptions, such as:

  • If the parents live separately
  • If the child does not currently live with either parent
  • If the location of one parent has been unknown for at least one month
  • If a stepparent has adopted the child
  • If one parent has joined the grandparent's petition for visitation rights

These exceptions can also apply after the court grants visitation rights. For example, if the parents who previously lived apart move back in together, the parents may petition the court to revoke the visitation rights.

The prospect of losing valuable time with your grandchild can be devastating. As pursuing grandparents' visitation rights can be complex, consider discussing your situation with an attorney to learn your options and pursue your rights.

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