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Do grandparents in California have visitation rights?

There is a special bond between grandparents and grandchildren in California. However, a bitter divorce could sever this bond. Grandparents who are being prevented from seeing their grandchildren following a divorce may wonder whether they can pursue visitation rights.

In California, grandparents may be granted reasonable visitation rights under certain circumstances. First, it must be shown that there was such a significant bond between the grandparent and grandchild before the divorce, that granting visitation rights would be in the child’s best interests. However, these visitation rights must be balanced with the rights of the child’s parents to make decisions regarding the care of their child.

In general, if a child’s parents are still married, grandparents cannot pursue visitation with the child. However, there are some exceptions. If no one knows where the parent is for a month or more, grandparents may seek visitation. Visitation may also be sought if the child is adopted by a stepparent. Visitation may also be sought if one of the child’s parents joins the grandparent’s request for visitation. There are other exceptions as well.

Most grandparents love their grandchildren very much and may worry that they will no longer be able to spend time with their grandchild post-divorce. This may be especially true in a contentious divorce where one party may try to “get back” at the other party by denying a grandparent access to the child. Grandparents who want to pursue visitation with their grandchild will want to seek the professional guidance they need to understand what is required of them before proceeding. Family law attorneys can provide legal advice, which this post does not offer.

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Joseph R. Zoucha, Attorney & Counselor at Law
520 Warren Street
Redwood City, CA 94063

Phone: 650-381-9591
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