Petitioning the court for visitation requires serving copies of the petition on anyone who has physical custody of your grandchildren. The issue will automatically go to mediation in California in an effort for all parties to reach an agreement for visitation without going to court. If mediation fails, the court will decide.
In all matters involving children in California courts, decisions are based on the best interests of the children. The burden of proving that a grandparent’s visitation rights are in the children’s best interest rests with the grandparent.
Among the factors the court will consider are:
- The nature of the grandparent’s relationship with the children and frequency of contact between them;
- The children’s health, safety, and well-being;
- Any history of drug abuse by anyone seeking visitation;
- Every adult’s use of alcohol or drugs; and,
- The wishes of children ages 14 or older.
If a parent dies, the court will consider visitation rights for parents, siblings, and other relatives of the deceased parent. Although other relatives need to have had contact with the children prior to the parent’s death, grandparents need only prove that their visitation rights are in the children’s best interest.
Visitation rights for grandparents whose grandchildren have been adopted by someone outside of the family are terminated upon adoption. In other words, when the relationship ends between the parent and the child, so does the grandparent’s relationship.
If there is an existing court case open involving custody and visitation matters for your grandchildren, you can petition the court for a visitation order under the existing case. If there is no open case, you will need to:
- Complete court forms and a petition requesting the order;
- File the forms and petition with the Clerk of the Court;
- Obtain a mediation date;
- Have the petition served on anyone who has physical custody of the children;
- File the proof of service with the court; and,
- Attend the initial court hearing or mediation.
Custody may be granted to parents or anyone else who can provide a stable and nurturing home for children. Many grandchildren live with grandparents in California due to the inability or unwillingness of the children’s parents to care for them. The court may grant grandparents in this situation legal custody of grandchildren so they can make decisions about their healthcare, education, and other matters.
Even in situations where grandparents do not have physical custody of grandchildren if grandparents can provide the support, care, and guidance the children need, the court may grant them legal custody.
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Family Law Attorney Today!
Grandparents can be a sustaining force for their grandchildren and provide much-needed support for their parents. Many grandparents want to have a close relationship with their grandchildren, even if that relationship isn’t always supported by the parents. Although the wishes of parents in the lives of their children take precedence, that does not always mean there isn’t room for grandparents.
When talking to your grandchildren’s parents fails, when you believe your grandchildren live in a dangerous environment, or when you want to formalize your custodial rights for grandchildren who live with you, you need an experienced family law attorney to help you explore your rights under California law.