Grandparent visitation and rights in a divorce. A divorce can have far-reaching effects for people beyond the couple that is calling it quits. Children may be moved away from familiar neighborhood schools, friends, and extended family – grandparents, in particular. This can be devastating to not only the children, but to the grandparents, as well. In some cases, divorced parents are eager to include grandparents in their children’s lives, but what if parents do not view grandparents as a valuable asset to their children? Do grandparents have any rights to visitation following a divorce? Do grandchildren have a right to interact with their grandparents? The questions are more complicated than some people realize, and a solution may not be viable without the assistance of an experienced family law attorney.
When One or Both Parents Object to Grandparent Visitation
The rights of parents are generally supported over those of non parents. When both parents prefer that grandparents not be granted visitation, or if only the custodial parent objects to it, convincing a judge otherwise can be extremely challenging. The court may grant visitation to grandparents only under limited circumstances:
- When a relationship already exists between the grandchildren and grandparents that “has engendered a bond” wherein the best interests of the child would be promoted through such visitation;
- The wishes of the parents and their right to make decisions about their children are balanced with the best interests of the child in allowing visitation with a grandparent.
These legal parameters may be interpreted differently depending on individual circumstances, of course. Preparing a strong case requires time and careful thought.
History of Judicial Thought on Grandparent Visitation
California courts have ruled on several general issues that have bearing on grandparent visitation. The first has to do with whether or not grandparents must prove that parents are unfit in order to gain visitation rights. On this matter, the court’s ruling was that even a fit parent’s decisions ought to be subject to court review. Proving fitness or lack thereof is not necessary for grandparents to file a claim for visitation.
The second issue revolves around the potentially onerous stipulations parents might place on grandparent visitation. In such circumstances, the courts may rule in favor of grandparents.
Finally, the courts have stated that when parents refuse grandparent visitation out of spite or anger, they may rule in favor of grandparents.
How and When to File for Grandparent Visitation
If an active case for divorce or legal separation is pending, grandparents are required to join that family law case. Otherwise, grandparents must complete several forms in order to file a new case. Continue reading →