Grandparents play an important role in a child’s life, especially if they see their grandchild frequently and with the approval of the child’s parents even if the child’s parents are no longer in a relationship. Time grandparents spend with their grandchild helps both parties develop a strong, nurturing bond together.
But if one parent refuses to let their ex’s parents spend time with their grandchild, this can harm the relationship between the grandparent and grandchild, causing both parties distress. In such situations, grandparents in California might have a legal right to visitation with their grandchild, but there are limits.
Grandparents’ visitation rights in California
Grandparents in California denied access to their grandchild can petition the court for visitation rights only in certain circumstances. For example, grandparents can seek visitation if the child’s parents are separated or if one parent joins the grandparent in their petition for visitation.
Once a grandparent’s petition is filed with the court, and both parents are served with the petition, the parents and grandparents will attend mandatory mediation on the topic of visitation. If mediation does not result in a satisfactory visitation schedule, a hearing will be held on the matter.
In a hearing, the court presumes the grandparent should not be granted visitation rights if both parents do not want the grandparent to spend time with the child. This is because parents have the ultimate authority in deciding who has access to their child.
The court will also presume the grandparent should not be granted visitation rights if the parent with sole legal and physical custody does not want the grandparent to spend time with the child. This is because a parent with sole legal and physical custody has the authority to make major decisions regarding the child’s life, including which relatives the child will see.
In either case, grandparent visitation must be in the best interests of the child. The court will consider whether grandparent visitation would better the child’s well-being. The court will also consider the pre-existing relationship between the grandparent and grandchild. If a child is age 14 or up, their wishes might also be considered.
Ultimately, grandparent visitation must be approved by one or both parents, depending on the circumstances, and serve the child’s best interests. Grandparents in California may love their grandchild dearly, but this does not automatically entitle them to visitation with their grandchild.