GRANDPARENT VISITATION RIGHTS
April 26, 2016
In the realm of visitation disputes, spouses are often more focused on the rights of the biological parents. However, in a growing number of cases, grandparents more than any other family member group are requesting to have their visitation rights considered. This may be a good thing, because after all as the old adage says, it takes a village to raise a child. However, this leaves to question all of the specifics of grandparent visitation rights.
WILL A JUDGE ACTUALLY AGREE?
Judges consider anything if it is determined to be in the best interest of the child. Therefore, typically if a couple is happily married or in a partnership and there are no safety concerns, the judge will traditionally rule in favor of the parents themselves to know what is right for their child. However, there are a few instances in which a judge may rule in favor of grandparents for visitation rights. Some instances may include:
A previous bond has already been formed between the child and the grandparent and therefore causing separation may result in negative effects on the child in question;
The parents are currently separated;
One of the parents has been missing in action for a month or more;
If a parent signs in favor of the grandparent agreeing they should see the child;
The child does not live with either of their parents; or
The grandchild has been adopted by a stepparent.
WHAT CAN A GRANDPARENT DO?
If a grandparent would like to request a court order visitation of their grandchildren, there are laws that may be able to assist them. As with any legal requests, there will be a process to complete. The process is as follows:
Find out if there is a family court case already open. This may be true in the event that the parents are getting a divorce. You may be able to file your paperwork and request in with those documents. However, if no case is currently open, you as the grandparent will need to open a case from the beginning;
Obtain and complete the court forms available. These are the Request for Order, Information Sheet for Request for Order, Child Custody and Visitation Application Attachment, as well as the Declaration. These forms lay out the reasons you would like to have visitation as well as why the court should grant them to you. Furthermore, they also indicate the visitation schedule you would like;
Have your forms reviewed by a lawyer, family law facilitator, or the court’s self help center. This is extremely important and will help the judge in their decision as to whether to approve or deny your request. You will want to be sure to have someone who is tried and true and proven to be effective in cases such as child visitation;
Make three copies of all of your paperwork. This will give a copy to the judge, one for yourself and one to the grandchild’s parents;
Return the forms to the clerk of the court along with any processing fee. If you cannot afford it, there are programs which will help you be able to afford it;
Get a court date or a mediation date and serve the papers to the parents; and
File your proof of service for the mediator or the lawyer, and finally to go the court or mediation session.
If you are interesting in requesting a court order to see your grandchildren, you may be unsure that the court will support you in your request. Do not let it keep you from trying. If you want to see your grandchildren and you believe that they need you in their life, you may consider seeking legal assistance. With the help of a lawyer, you will be less likely to be pushed around in the courtroom and to achieve a successful outcome. If you are looking for a San Jose, CA family lawyer, contact the Law Offices of Stephen E. Springer today for your free 20 minute consultation at 408-779-4700.