Understanding Visitation Laws for Grandparents
The State of California outlines the legal rights of a grandparent over the visitation of his or her grandchildren. It allows an individual to request the court of law to grant reasonable visitation for their grandchild who for some reason no longer lives with them.
What does the court have to ensure before granting visitation to grandparents?
The court of law has to first establish a pre existing relationship between the grandparents and the grandchild which might have ‘engendered a bond’ between the two. The implication of this phrase is that the court needs to determine that there exists a certain congenial bond between the grandchild and his grandparent which when fostered through reasonable visitation will lead to the best interests of the grandchild involved. Furthermore, the court has to make a decision based on a balanced execution of the grandparent’s visitation rights, the best interests of the child and the parental rights of his parents.
When can a grandparent request for visitation rights?
Usually, a grandparent may file for their visitation right only in the event of a legal separation or divorce of the grandchild’s parents. However, as per the Californian family laws, there are certain exceptional circumstances wherein the grandparents can obtain visitation rights even when the grandchild’s parents are still married. If the parents are living separately or the whereabouts of either of them cannot be established for more than a month, the grandparents have the right to seek visitation of their grandchildren. In addition to this, if the grandchild has been adopted by a step mother or father, or does not live with either parent, the grandparent can be granted visitation rights for the best interest of the child. Furthermore, if either or both of the parents are found to be supportive of the grandparents’ visitation petition, the court has the discretion to accept the request in its entirety.
However, in case the grandparents have been granted visitation rights by the court and any or all of the aforementioned situations are reversed, the parents have the right to request the court to end the grandparent’s visitation, and the court is obliged to act accordingly.
Although a complex matter, it is always advisable to discuss and resolve all grandparent visitation related concerns through out of court mediation, as it ensures both the preservation of your relationship with the grandchild as well as his parents, and also the best interests of your grandchild.
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