When divorce occurs, people often discuss a father and mother’s rights to visit a child. However, grandparents visitation is less discussed. Many grandparents don’t realize that they have rights to see their grandchildren. Learn what rights a grandparent has to her grandchildren in California.
When Can You File for Grandparents Visitation Rights?
When a couple divorces, the divorce agreement doesn’t often include anything about grandparents visitation. This could result in a child being kept from his grandparents. In California, there are ways to prevent this from happening. You can file for visitation. However, you first must prove a couple of key points.
First, you need to show that there was a prior relationship between you and your grandchild. There needs to have been a strong bond that was hurt by the divorce. Additionally, that bond needs to be in the best interest of the grandchild.
Secondly, you need to show that the visitation would balance the best interest of the grandchild with the parent’s rights. If the visitation violates the parent’s rights to make decisions for the child, the court could deny your request.
Married Couples and Grandparent Visitation
Although most grandparents file for visitation after their own child goes through a divorce, this isn’t always the case. Some grandparents visitation cases occur when their child is still married. In such cases, one of the following needs to be true:
- The parents do not live together
- One parent cannot be found for at least one month
- One parent joins the grandparents visitation request
- The grandchild does not live with his parents
- A stepparent adopted the grandchild
There may be other exceptions. However, it’s up to a court to decide if the exception is valid. And if the circumstances change, the parents can go to court and ask to end the visitation rights.
How Do You File for Visitation?
Filing for grandparent visitation is a difficult process. You need to file a petition in court. However, this process is more difficult than it sounds. If there’s an open court case, you might be able to request visitation under that case. An open court case could be a divorce case or a child support case. By filing under an open case, you can make your life a little easier. Otherwise, you need to start a new case and file a new petition.
Filling out the paperwork is no easy task. Because there are no official court forms, you might have trouble with the paperwork. Some courts offer local forms or a template that makes the process easier. However, you may need to go to a lawyer for help. Without official paperwork, you can face many challenges in the filing process. Turning to a lawyer can save you from making a mistake that jeopardizes your case.
A few important details to include in your paperwork are the following:
- The ideal visitation schedule for you and your grandchild
- Your relationship with your grandchild
- Why your grandchild would benefit from visitation with you
- Any important details about the relationship between you and your grandchild
After the Paperwork
Once the paperwork is complete, you should have someone review your paperwork. Additionally, you should make copies of it. Then, you can take it to the court clerk and file the paperwork. There is a filing fee for the process.
The court clerk could give you a mediation date. In some cases, you might need to meet with a mediator and your grandchild’s parents before you can go to court. You should also get a court date. Before the court date, you need to serve the parents of your grandchild with the papers. When the court date comes, the judge will make the final decision about your grandparents visitation.
What Type of Visitation Schedules Does the Court Support?
There is no standard visitation schedule that California courts support. Instead, it is on a case-by-case basis. The one requirement is that the schedule is reasonable. If it is too inconvenient or demanding, it’s unlikely that the court will approve it. The schedule needs to be reasonable for everyone- this includes the parents and the child.
Are There Other Ways to Get Visitation?
You might not have to go through the court system to get visitation of your grandchild. In some cases, the involved parties can come to an agreement outside of court. While you can do this without the presence of lawyers, using lawyers makes the process easier. You might be able to negotiate an arrangement that works well for everyone without a messy court battle.
There’s also the issue of raising your grandchildren. However, that is an entirely different issue. Known as guardianship, this is a separate process. Guardianship occurs when you grandchild has parents who cannot take care of the child. The process is very different from visitation.
If grandparents visitation is something that you want, you deserve help. While California does offer visitation rights to grandparents, it is a difficult process.