Grandparents’ Custody and Visitation
After a divorce, or when a parent dies, a child’s grandparents and other relatives may be without visitation rights. In these cases, the grandparents or another third party may seek visitation rights and primary or legal custody of a child. A third party may be the former unmarried partner of the child’s parent, or a close relative such as an aunt or uncle. This situation is also common when a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) couple ends a relationship and one partner wants visitation or custody rights to a child.
Under California law, grandparents do have a right to reasonable visitation with a grandchild. There are some variables to consider, however. The first and most important has to do with the visitation history of the grandparent with the grandchild. At question for the courts is whether or not this relationship “engendered a bond” between the grandparent and the grandchild. Additionally, it must be deemed that it is ultimately in the best interest of the child to maintain this relationship while considering the ultimate rights of the parent or legal guardian.
According to California Family Code Section 3103a:
“Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in a proceeding described in Section 3021, the court may grant reasonable visitation to a grandparent of a minor child of a party to the proceeding if the court determines that visitation by the grandparent is in the best interest of the child.”
It is important to note that grandparent visitation petitions are not valid in all situations, specifically when:
- the natural or adoptive parents are married
- the parents are separated
- the whereabouts of one spouse has not been known for one month’s time
- one of the parents joins in the petition
- the child is not residing with either parent
- the child has been adopted by a stepparent
California grants grandparents and certain third parties standing to get into family court for visitation and custody cases to seek a nonparent custody award. However, it is often difficult for them to win these cases, especially if the parents of the child object. At The Lavi Firm, P.C., we are capable and ready to analyze individual cases and advise our clients on ways to proceed.
Grandparents and third parties can often sue for custody and visitation rights when they can prove that it is in the best interest of the child. The court may grant custody or visitation in certain situations such as:
- There is concern for the child’s welfare
- A parent is unfit due to substance or child abuse
- A parent is in jail, deceased or unavailable
- There is emotional benefit of the third party’s relationship with the child
At The Lavi Firm, P.C., we represent grandparents and third parties who are seeking visitation or custody of a minor child.
Contact The Lavi Firm, P.C., at 310-289-0989 to schedule an appointment for your free consultation, or contact us online, regarding your family law matter, and determine how we may be able to assist you.