Huntington Beach Grandparent Attorney

Experienced Huntington Beach

Grandparent Lawyer

As grandparents, you want your grandchildren to be thriving and happy. You want not only to build a relationship with them but also for them to grow up with a loving family and as much stability as possible. While we hope your relationship with your grandchildren is never jeopardized, there may come a time when you need a Huntington Beach grandparent attorney or visitation lawyer to partner with you.

Whether as a result of an ongoing divorce case, a Child Protective Services case, or other unforeseen circumstances, you, as grandparents, experience the shockwaves that go through your family. You are integral to the life and health of your family. Working with a visitation lawyer early on can help ensure that you will still have a place in the lives of your grandchildren.

Choosing an Attorney

Family law, including grandparents’ rights, is unique to each individual family. Decisions made in courtrooms deeply impact relationships and day-to-day life, so it is important to find a lawyer who thoroughly understands the intricacies of family law in your county. It is equally important to pick a lawyer who grasps the ramifications the case has on you personally, as well as on the people dearest to you.

At The Law Offices of Lisa R. McCall, we keep the focus on you, your family, and the desires you have for your relationships. We bring over 20 years of combined experience to guide you through difficult questions and necessary paperwork. We have skills in both mediation and advocacy, both essential when fighting to stay in the lives of people you love.

Cases Involving Grandparent Rights

Ideally, parents take excellent care of their children, and grandparents are granted visitation rights by their grandchildren’s parents. Court-ordered visitation rights and child custody cases would not be necessary. Life can be messy, however, and it is in the midst of family difficulties that grandparents usually find themselves losing or worried about their visitation rights.

Grandparent visitation rights are often connected to other court cases, such as divorce or Child Protective Services (CPS) cases. These types of family law cases can involve many decisions and be particularly complex. A divorce case, for example, may raise questions about child custody, parentage, visitation rights, and other arrangements. Early involvement on the part of grandparents may increase the likelihood of gaining visitation or custody rights.

Even outside of divorces or CPS cases, there is a possibility that one or both parents deny visitation to their elders. Tense relationships between family members are difficult, and it is challenging for elders to be separated from a grandchild they love. Grandparents do have certain rights, however, which is where having an attorney may help.

Do I Really Need an Attorney?

In the midst of family issues, emotions can get out of hand. The legal system can feel very overwhelming, and it is easy to misunderstand laws, misfile paperwork, miss key deadlines, or lack the confidence to advocate for yourself or your grandchildren. Having legal support is advised to help avoid extra anxiety or the possibility that a mistake or miscommunication loses you the right to be involved in your grandchild’s life in the way you want.

What Is the Law for Grandparents’ Rights in California?

Grandparents in California are not without rights, but there are complexities to each family situation. These complexities are what make seeking knowledgeable legal help advisable. Generally, grandparents have the right to:

  • File for custody of their grandchildren or for visitation rights
  • Receive notifications about any court proceedings involving their grandchildren
  • Ask for a court-ordered reunification with their grandchildren

When Can a Grandparent File for Visitation Rights?

There are two basic requirements that a grandparent must meet to file for visitation rights, regardless of the situation. These requirements are:

  1. Having a preexisting relationship with the child in question. This relationship must have created a bond that it is in the best interest of the child to maintain.
  2. The parent’s rights to make decisions for their child must be weighed against the grandparent’s right to visitation.

Proving a Preexisting Relationship With A Grandchild

Grandparents petitioning the court for visitation rights have the responsibility to provide proof of their relationship with the children in question. It is not enough to tell the court you have a relationship with a child, as the court expects evidence. Examples of evidence include:

  • Photo or video documentation of the relationship
  • Records or receipts showing financial support of the child
  • Testimony from reliable witnesses
  • Statements from the grandparents or from the parents of the child

Filing for Visitation Rights While a Child’s Parents Are Still Married

In most circumstances, California upholds married parents’ rights to choose who their unemancipated child is or is not allowed to see. The right of the parents to make decisions for their children is prioritized. This means that if a child’s parents are still married and do not wish a grandparent to have visitation rights, the court upholds their decision.

There are, however, exceptions to this rule, including if:

  • One parent petitions with the grandparents to give them visitation rights
  • One parent is in prison or institutionalized
  • One of the parents has been missing for over a month without their spouse knowing their location
  • The parents are not living together indefinitely or permanently
  • The child is not living with either of their parents
  • The child has been adopted by a stepparent

What Is Family Code 3102?

Family Code 3102 deals with a situation where one of the parents of an unemancipated child has died. In this scenario, the relations of the now-deceased parent may be granted reasonable visitation rights. This includes the parents, grandparents, siblings, and children of the deceased. A visitation order will only be granted if it is determined that it is in the interest of the child.

What Does the Court Look at When Determining Visitation Rights and Custody

Legal visitation rights are unnecessary for grandparents if the parents encourage or permit visits. In cases where parents disapprove of or forbid the grandparents from visiting, they have the right to appeal to the court. In cases where the parents have lost custody, they also have the right to ask for a visitation order. The court acts to protect the interests of children and looks at several factors when making a decision, including:

  • The relationship between the grandparent and the child
  • The desires of the child
  • Any reasons the parents give for not supporting visitation rights
  • The impact of visitation on the parent-child relationship
  • Any history or evidence of abuse/neglect on the part of the grandparent
  • Any mental health conditions

The main difference between when a court determines visitation versus custody rights is that the bar is higher for custody rights. Custody cases will also take finances into consideration, determining if a child can be adequately cared for. It may also be possible for grandparents to obtain child support if they obtain physical custody of a child.

What Is Family Code 3041?

Family Code 3041 prioritizes the safety and well-being of a child over parental rights, allowing non-parents and family to be given custody of a child if it is in that child’s interest. Situations where grandparents or non-parents may be granted custody include child abuse or neglect cases, cases where one or both parents are struggling with substances, cases where one or both parents are incarcerated, etc.

If you believe your grandchild is at risk, it may be wise to call the police or Child Protective Services. It is important to take action any time you become aware that a child is being harmed in any way. Note that calling CPS does not guarantee you visitation or custody rights.

Can Grandparents Get Custody From CPS in California?

CPS cases are not only emotionally challenging but complicated as well. Child Protective Services gets involved any time there is concern for a child’s well-being, such as in cases of neglect or abuse. CPS cases are often high-stakes cases. As a grandparent, it is advisable to work with a qualified attorney early on, particularly if you are concerned about losing visitation rights or about what custody may look like.

Since the main goal in a CPS case is to protect the interests and safety of the child, these cases initially move very quickly. After a child is removed from a home, the court must give parents the chance to show the removal was not necessary. Typically, the court must give parents an opportunity to do this in the first couple of weeks after removal. The courts must quickly decide on who is given temporary custody, who has visitation rights, etc., while a case continues.

Grandparents wishing to have visitation rights or temporary physical custody should be involved in the CPS hearings early on. When a parent loses custody rights in a CPS case, the court is required to first look for a relative to place the child with. This does not mean grandparents are guaranteed custody of grandchildren, but it is an opportunity a lawyer can look into.

The Visitation Order Request Process

  1. Determine if a case has already been started regarding the child’s custody. If so, file paperwork to join the case and ask for a court date. If no case has started, begin one yourself. Depending on if you are joining or beginning a case, the paperwork will vary. There will also be a filing fee.
  2. Pick a server to deliver the papers to both parents. The server must be a legal adult not involved in the case. They must deliver the papers to both individuals before the deadline to serve, then fill out and file a Proof of Service form.
  3. If you joined a previously existing case, then you will have a court date, and you need to prepare for that. California mandates mediation before all child custody hearings. If possible, try to reach an agreement with the parents before the court date. Bring all documentation to your court hearing.
  4. If you initiate the case, the focus will be on mediation. A family court mediator will try to help you and the parents negotiate an agreement. It is possible you will not need to make an appearance in court.
  5. In both cases, a judge will eventually sign a court order stating what determination has been made, at which point all parties must follow the court order.

Requesting Child Custody as a Grandparent

California generally protects parental rights, so if you are seeking temporary or permanent physical custody of your grandchildren, you must have a strong case and clear evidence. Seeking custody means you believe your grandchildren are being harmed by remaining with their current custodians. This is a serious situation. Please prioritize your grandchildren’s well-being by reaching out to find a qualified lawyer or attorney in Huntington Beach, CA to support you.

Mediation Outside of Court

No one wants to end up in court, and court battles within families can easily devolve and cause rifts and estrangements. Mediation is not only a helpful tool for divorcing couples but for grandparents and other impacted parties as well.

Mediation allows families to meet together and discuss desires and solutions with a neutral third party. This can save time, emotional energy, and money that would otherwise be spent in the court system. California law requires that partners or families unable to reach an agreement concerning child custody or visitation must participate in mediation.

As with anything, there are exceptions to mediation being helpful. If you feel unable to represent or advocate for yourself even with a neutral party mediating, then this may not be the approach for you. If a parent or another individual involved is overpowering or intimidating, you may feel more confident and comfortable sticking with an attorney representing you.

Partnering with a Visitation Lawyer

Being a grandparent is a privilege and a responsibility. The team at The Law Offices of Lisa R. McCall knows that you want the opportunity to show up for your grandchildren and that while the rights and role of parents are crucial, so are those of grandparents.

Family law cases can feel overwhelming and impact both your life and the lives of the people you love. With over 20 years of combined legal experience, we can help you navigate the court systems and fight for the well-being of your loved ones. If you are looking to gain visitation or custody rights and need a competent, compassionate Huntington Beach grandparent lawyer, please contact us today. We would be honored to support you.

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