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As grandparents, you love your grandchildren immensely and want the best for them in all aspects of their lives, including the right to maintain a close relationship with you. You don’t want them to be missing out on your emotional support and advice, especially if their parents are going through a divorce.
Divorces are extremely challenging for everyone involved but especially for children who are often confused by what is happening around them. In times like these, grandparents can offer the much-needed stability and comfort to cope with their parent’s separation.
Can a Parent Deny a Grandparent Visitation in California?
After a divorce, the primary way in which grandparents get visitation rights with their grandchildren is through the mutual consent of both parents. Unfortunately, some parents will deny grandparents the right to see or contact the children and, in some cases, even wrongfully prohibit visitations. Each circumstance is unique and calls for a deep understanding of the law.
If this is your case, you are not alone. At The Law Offices of Lisa R. McCall, we understand the strong connection between grandchildren and grandparents. The importance of having a grandparent in your life is obvious. We work hard to ensure you are building a strong case with the best option for seeing your grandchildren under the protection of the law. Our attorneys will analyze your case, answer your questions, and help you fight for your rights.
What Legal Rights Do Grandparents Have in Orange County, CA?
Although grandparents typically have no reason to establish legal terms for visiting their grandchildren, this often changes when a divorce occurs. There are some instances in which grandparents can petition for reasonable visitations with their grandchildren while the parents are still married. An Orange County family lawyer can help you.
Under California law, grandparents are not guaranteed visitation rights while the grandchild’s parents are still married unless:
- The whereabouts of the child’s parents are unknown
- One or both parents are incarcerated or involuntary institutionalized
- Parents don’t have physical custody of the child
- Parents have psychological issues that prevent them from properly caring for the child
- Parents have drug and/or alcohol abuse problems that make them unfit to have custody
- One of the parents joins the grandparent in filing a legal claim for visitation.
California’s Law Supports the Grandparents Rights
Fortunately, California’s law honors the strong value of the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren and understands that this bond must remain in place even if the parents of a child are divorced or when one parent has died.
However, for the court to grant this request, grandparents must:
- Prove that there was a preexisting relationship between grandparent and grandchild that has “engendered a bond.” Such a bond would make it in the best interests of the child to maintain a relationship between grandparent and grandchild by ordering the visitation; and
- Balance the best interests of the child in having visitation and a relationship with his or her grandparent against the rights of the parent(s) to make decisions about their child.
Balancing Grandparents’ Visitation Rights with Respect to the Parents’ Rights
In all cases, the court will want to prioritize the best interest of the child or children involved. This varies from case to case and will need legal expertise to ensure that your rights are represented well. If there is a need to override parental rights, Section 3104 of the California Family Code ensures that a judge evaluates the situation and assesses the benefits or problems of each scenario.
People often ask what makes this already difficult process easier. There is a higher likelihood that a court will grant grandparents visitation rights if there is a prior established relationship between the grandchildren and grandparents. This allows the court to put more trust into the grandchildren and shows the type of impact a grandparent has had on a child.
If you do have an established relationship with a grandchild, courts will require evidence of this. Examples of helpful evidence that can be provided to courts include:
- Primary statements from the grandchild or the grandchild’s parent (s)
- Receipts of past financial support of the grandchild
- Photographs or videos capturing the grandparent’s relationship with the child
- Credible eyewitness testimony
- Statements supporting the grandparents’ intentions
Courts often find it necessary to balance the visitation rights between parents and grandparents. A parent’s right is typically prioritized and is a fundamental part of family law. Keeping the affected child or children with their parents is usually the courts top priority. This can make it difficult to convince the court to grant the grandparents visitation rights. The benefit of taking these issues to court with an expert legal team by your side is that it allows the court to view the situation in a neutral light. If your grandparent rights are being infringed upon the court will be able to hear your side and determine without bias what is the best possible situation for your grandchild.
Grandparents can petition the court for reasonable visitations with their grandchildren if they believe this is in the best interest of the children and the children’s welfare is at risk.
The court will consider many factors, a few of which include:
- A known history of domestic abuse by the parent’s or other individuals in the child’s life
- Known drug or alcohol abuse by the parent’s or other individuals in the child’s life
- The overall health and well-being of the child in the current environment
Can Grandparents Get Legal Aid to See Grandchildren?
Grandparents are an essential part of a family and can provide children with important emotional support. There are a variety of options in the legal aid that can be provided to grandparents, and it typically varies from individual case to case. If you are seeking court-ordered visitation for your grandchild or are experiencing any related issues, it is important to seek legal counsel. Our Orange County Family Law Firm has a wide variety of expertise and is prepared to assist during this difficult time. Contact the experienced attorneys at The Law Offices of Lisa R. McCall to schedule a consultation today.