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Do Grandparents Have Visitation Rights in California?

Posted by Michael Geller | Jul 01, 2022 | 0 Comments

In California, a family court has the authority to grant reasonable visitation rights to the grandparent of a minor child, or children. However, it is important to note that a family law court will not automatically approve visitation rights for a grandparent. In order to obtain grandparent visitation rights, you need to first file a petition requesting grandparent visitation rights with the family court.

Grandparent visitation occurs when a grandparent formally files a motion seeking visitation with their grandchild on specific days and times. Such visitation is permitted under California law, specifically Family Code Section 3100. Upon making certain findings, a California family court may grant a grandparent's request for visitation which will necessitate the issuance of a court order. The court will require both the grandparent and the minor child's parents to be in compliance with such an order.

Joinder Process for Grandparent Visitation

The process for requesting visitation rights as a grandparent will vary depending on specific circumstances. For example, if a family law case between your grandchild's parents is already filed and active, such as a divorce or paternity case, then you have the ability to join that proceeding and request grandparent visitation rights. This is known as the “joinder process.” To initiate the joinder process you will need to file a Motion for Joinder seeking to be added to the pending divorce/custody matter.

According to California Rules of Court section 5.24(e)(1), any party with physical custody or claiming custody or visitation rights with respect to a minor child of the parties' relationship must be ordered joined.

Criteria for Grandparent Visitation

Under California law, in order to obtain grandparent visitation rights, the family law court will conduct an analysis to determine whether specific criteria are met in order to grant the visitation rights request. The criteria for grandparent visitation includes:

  • Finding a preexisting relationship between you and your grandchild that has produced a bond such that visitation with your grandchild would be in your grandchild's best interest.
  • Balancing the best interest of your grandchild having visitation with you against the rights of your grandchild's parents.
  • If the family law court finds that visitation would be in the best interest for your grandchild and balances that best interest against the rights of your grandchild's parents, the court may grant reasonable grandparent visitation.

Please be aware that it is ultimately in the court's discretion to determine what kind of visitation is reasonable for a grandparent.

Need Assistance Filing for Grandparent Visitation in Contra Costa County? Contact The Geller Firm Today

Your ability to be granted visitation rights to your grandchild depends on the legal arguments you present to the court. Thus, it is important that you have an experienced California family law attorney by your side. As a result, consider contacting The Geller Firm. Our team of experienced and respected Walnut Creek divorce attorneys are here to help. We are located in the San Francisco Bay Area and are proud to provide legal services in Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, and Contra Costa County, along with San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, and Pleasanton. Our legal team is available for virtual and in-person consultations. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

About the Author

Michael Geller

Michael Geller grew up in San Francisco, CA. He attended the University of Southern California for his undergraduate studies, the City University of New York for his medical training, and Santa Clara University School of Law for his legal education.

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