Kathleen J. Smith, Attorney at Law

Grandparents in California can pursue visitation rights

When it comes to custody, care and visitation of young children in California, usually the focus is on the children's parents. However, other people in the children's lives, like their grandparents, may also lay claim to an interest in time with the children and may pursue that claim legally. Grandparent rights and guardianship are an interesting area of law.

Those seeking grandparent rights should carefully consult with their attorney, because the requirements are very specific. For example, grandparents are usually not allowed to file for visitation rights when the parents of the children are married. However, there are exceptions so that, like the parents living separately though married, the whereabouts of one parent being unknown for at least a month, the children living away from both of their parents or a stepparent having adopted the children.

Additionally, grandparents can petition for visitation rights if one of the children's parents joins their petition or if one of the parents is deceased. If the parents of the children, are unmarried, grandparents can pursue visitation rights, though those cases come with their own set of issues.

Regardless of the circumstances, courts will look to see if there is a pre-existing relationship and healthy bond between the grandparents and the children. That means that if the children are several years old and have never spent time with the grandparents, the grandparents will have a hard road for officially securing visitation rights. On the other hand, if the grandparents and the children have a close and constant connection, the grandparents will have a much more viable path for securing visitation rights.

There are a lot of family dynamics that play into cases of grandparents seeking visitation right. For that reason, grandparents will want to share all of the details about those dynamics with their attorney.

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