Disputes over child visitation in a divorce typically come down to the best interests of your child. A loving home and a nurturing environment are crucial foundations growing up. Sometimes, though, it’s grandparents who offer this stability rather than parents alone. That’s why the Stockton and Walnut Creek, CA divorce attorneys at Shore, McKinley, Conger & Jolley, LLP take the rights of grandparents so seriously.
Below, we want to broadly discuss grandparent rights in a divorce, and then focus on petitioning for child visitation. The process is more complicated than you may have expected.
Why Grandparents’ Rights Are Important
Even though your grandchildren may not technically be your kids, your bond to them may be extremely important. In some cases, children in a divorce may get along with their grandparents better than they do their parents. If anything, maintaining a good and close relationship to one’s grandparents can foster a better sense of self and a tie to the family’s roots.
We’ll focus on child visitation here, but just know that seeking guardianship of a grandchild in a divorce is a completely different process than seeking visitation rights.
Are There Federal Laws on Grandparent Visitation?
Even though there are many legitimate reasons to consider grandparent visitation rights, there are no federal laws regarding these matters. Instead, state laws must be considered when it comes to grandparents and their relationship to their grandchildren in a divorce.
California Laws on Grandparent Child Visitation
In the state of California, grandparents are permitted to request reasonable visitation with their grandchildren. The court will decide if this request will be granted. Typically, that means demonstrating the following:
- There must be evidence that the grandparent and grandchild have engendered a bond with one another, meaning that there is a pre-existing and close relationship with one another
- Maintaining a close relationship with the grandparent(s) is in the child’s best interests
It’s also important for the court to balance out the visitation rights of the grandparents with the visitation rights of the child’s parents.
The Process to Receive Grandparent Visitation Rights
Grandparents must first file a petition in court to receive visitation rights. This could involve filing for petition using the existing divorce case, or even filing a new case to petition for grandchild visitation rights. The paperwork must then be served to the parents.
How a Family Law Attorney Can Help with Visitation
Since there are no official state forms for grandchild visitation, the process can be complicated. The official California Courts website even notes the process can be confusing and difficult.
This is why it’s important to have an experienced family law attorney on your side. They can determine if you should file your petition on an open case or open a new case, and let you know what other challenges and difficulties lay ahead. Being prepared for the court hearings and a possible legal battle is sometimes half the battle when it comes to ensuring the well-being of your grandchildren.
Learn More About Child Visitation
If you are a grandparent and want to learn more about legal rights when it comes to the visitation, custody, and best interests of your grandchildren, be sure to contact our skilled team of family law attorneys. You can reach Shore, McKinley, Conger & Jolley, LLP at their Stockton and Walnut Creek locations by calling (209) 477-8171.