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Can a Grandparent Gain Child Visitation Rights?

“Family” is a broad term that encompasses many people. Your immediate spouse and kids can be family, but so can people outside the home. In our busy world, outside help is invaluable to keeping a household moving along. Grandparents often play a huge role in that regard. Circumstances change, however, and families can fall apart when a couple divorces.

Divorce can create great disruption in the home. Grandparents, once actively involved, can be pushed out, isolated from the kids. Legally, parents can decide who does and doesn’t have access to the children. Unfortunately, that privilege extends to cutting off relatives.

If you find yourself in such a scenario, you have options. Grandparents can gain visitation rights, but doing so can be difficult. In this article, we will discuss California’s laws that can help grandparents keep a relationship with their grandchildren.

Legal Reasoning for Grandparent Visitation

In family law, it’s often important to build a case regarding any child visitation or custody, especially if you aren’t the parent. It isn’t enough to simply say that you love the grandkids and want to keep seeing them.

California has specific criteria for allowing grandparent visitation.

  • The child’s parents are deceased.
  • Child custody has not been finalized in a divorce or a custody modification.
  • The child’s parents are not married to one another.
  • The child’s parents do not live together.

Grandparents won’t get visitation simply by meeting these qualifications. They must make a strong legal argument to get visitation.

Making the Case for Grandparent Visitation

In 2000, a Washington couple with two children separated. The father, Brad Troxel, continued to take his daughters to visit his parents. Later, he committed suicide. The children’s mother, Tommie Granville, remarried and blocked the Troxels’ access to their grandchildren.

This resulted in a lawsuit that made its way to the U.S. Supreme court. Troxel v. Granville concluded that parents have the right to block an adult’s access to children, even when those adults are grandparents. When this happens, grandparents must make a case for visitation.

Essentially, courts always try to act in the best interests of children. They want to protect the kids and mitigate any harm that could come their way. When grandparents have been excluded from the children’s lives, they must prove that this exclusion hurts the child.

These arguments can range in extremes. On one end, you may believe that the child is in a harmful environment, and you need to stay involved for their safety. At the opposite extreme, you could have a genuine case in that you have been actively involved as a parental figure, and your sudden removal could cause imbalance or emotional distress to the child.

As with any legal argument, you’ll need documentation, witness statements, and other evidence to prove your case.

Do not attempt to make this case on your own. You need the help of a skilled legal professional. They are trained to build arguments through investigation, and they can present a compelling claim for you in court.

If you are concerned about losing access to your grandchildren, contact us right away for a free consultation. We have successfully helped many grandparents stay connected to their grandkids. Call us now at (916) 299-3936, or fill out our online contact form.