What does the law say about grandparents' rights to visitation?

In Los Angeles, there are certain situations in which the grandparents of the child would like to have visitation rights with a grandchild. The law has basic criteria as to when this can be requested and granted. Understanding when this can be done is integral to the grandparents' rights to see the child.

For there to be reasonable visitation, the court must do two things. First, it must find that there was a relationship between the grandparent and the grandchild and that a bond was engendered during that time. This bond will put the visitation between grandparent and grandchild in the best interests of the grandchild. Second, the best interests of the child must be balanced with the parents' rights to make decisions as to whom the child will and will not see.

Grandparents are generally not able to ask for visitation with the grandchild if the parents of the child remain married. However, there are exceptions to this. Examples of exceptions include: if the parents are separated; if a parent's whereabouts are not known and this has been the case for a minimum of one month; if one parent joins in the petition filed by the grandparent to have visitation rights; if the child is not residing with either of the parents; or if the grandchild was adopted by a stepparent.

In many instances, it is important for the child's well-being to have a relationship with the grandparent. Part of that is visitation rights. In other situations, such as the examples listed above, there are circumstances that have come about that make it imperative that the grandparent be able to see and maintain a relationship with the grandchild. Regardless of the family legal issues that are present, a grandparent who is seeking visitation with a grandchild should make sure they understand the law and operate within it. Discussing a case with an experienced family law attorney is the first step.

Source: courts.ca.gov, "Visitation Rights of Grandparents," accessed on March 21, 2017

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