There are various reasons why a parent might limit a grandparent’s right or ability to see their grandchildren. If you’re a grandparent in San Diego, California, and you believe you are being unfairly prevented from seeing your grandchildren, you may wonder if this is legal.

The following overview will help you understand what you need to know about the rights grandparents do and do not have in California.

When Can Grandparents Be Granted Visitation Rights?

There are instances when grandparents in California can request a court to grant them visitation rights. A grandparent who is being denied access to their grandchildren can obtain visitation rights if they can demonstrate that:

  • They and their grandchild had a pre-existing relationship and had developed a bond that would make seeing their grandparent beneficial to the grandchild
  • Allowing a child to see their grandparent would be in their best interests while also ensuring the child’s parents have a reasonable right and opportunity to make decisions about their child

However, there are also limitations on when a grandparent can file a request for visitation rights. Grandparents generally cannot request visitation rights when both of a grandchild’s parents are still married. There are exceptions to this rule, though.

Even if a grandchild’s parents are currently married, grandparents can file for visitation rights in the following circumstances:

  • When the child’s parents are separated
  • When the whereabouts of one parent are unknown
  • One of the parents supports the grandparent’s petition for visitation rights
  • The child is not living with either parent
  • A stepparent has adopted the grandchild
  • One of the parents has been incarcerated
  • One of the parents has been involuntarily institutionalized

Whether grandparents will be successful depends on the specific facts in that case.

How Can a Family Law Attorney Help with Visitation Rights for Grandparents?

Be aware that California law provides parents with several means of arguing against grandparent visitation rights. It’s important for those involved in disputes regarding grandparent visitation rights to enlist the help of family law attorneys who have experience with these matters.

If you’re a grandparent who is being denied the right to visit your grandchild, your lawyer can counter the unfair arguments that may be made against you. Suppose you’re a parent who has a genuine reason for not wanting a grandparent to have visitation rights. In that case, a lawyer can help you document the reasons your arguments against granting visitation rights are valid.

Filing a petition for visitation rights does not guarantee that a request will be granted. Courts judge each petition on a case-by-case basis due to the sensitive nature of this issue. As such, an attorney can play a critical role in reaching the right result.

An attorney can also ensure that their client adheres to certain rules established under California law. For example, if you are a grandparent petitioning for visitation rights, you must give proper notice of your petition to the child’s parents, stepparents, or anyone with physical custody of them. Failure to do so can harm your chances of being granted visitation rights.

You should also consider hiring a lawyer if the court has already granted visitation rights but you have reason to believe that the court’s decision is being ignored or violated. For example, if the court granted you the right to visit your grandchild under certain conditions, that does not mean their parents will always allow you to visit them according to the court’s ruling. 

A lawyer may be able to help when this occurs. The main point to understand is that cases involving grandparent visitation rights in California are often complicated. It’s not always clear whether grandparents should be allowed to see their grandchildren. Thus, working with a qualified attorney can help you make sense of your legal options when disputes between grandparents and parents regarding visitation rights arise.

For more information, call our law firm at (619) 866-3756 or reach out to us via email by visiting our contact us page.