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How Can a Grandparent File for Visitation Rights

August 5, 2021 Uncategorized

In some circumstances, grandparents in California can file for visitation with their grandchildren. In today’s article, we’ll go over the eligibility requirements for grandparents seeking visitation as well as the court filing process.

How Do Grandparents Request Visitation?

Who Is Eligible for the Program?

A grandparent can approach the court for reasonable visitation with a grandchild under California law. In order for a grandparent to have reasonable visitation with their grandchild, the court must first:

  • find that there was a prior relationship between grandparent and grandchild that has “engendered a bond” (there is such a bond between them that visitation is in the best interest of the grandchild); and 
  • balance the child’s best interests in having visitation with a grandparent with the parents’ rights to make decisions about their child.

Grandparents cannot usually seek for visitation rights while the grandchild’s parents are still married. There are exceptions, however, if:

  • The parents are no longer living together;
  • The location of a parent is unknown (and has been for at least a month);
  • One of the parents agrees to the grandparent’s visitation request;
  • Neither of the child’s parents reside with them; 
  • Alternatively, a stepparent may have adopted the grandchild.

A grandparent can submit a petition in court to seek the court to order visitation with their grandchild. If the kid’s parents have previously filed a family court case (divorce, parentage case, child support, or a domestic violence restraining order), a grandparent may be eligible to request visitation under that case. If no open case exists, the grandparent may have to file a petition in court and begin a new case from scratch, which is best done with the assistance of a lawyer.

How to Apply

In general, if a grandparent wants to request visitation with a grandchild, they must first complete out their court forms and any other paperwork required to initiate a case, such as a Request for Order. Grandparents can anticipate to explain why they want a specific visitation schedule with their grandkids in the request. The judge must assess the nature of the grandparent-grandchild connection and whether visitation is in the best interests of their grandkids. Make at least three copies of all forms for future reference: one for the applicant and the other two for the grandchild’s parents.

The grandparent(s) will be given a court date or a mediation date after the clerk has reviewed the application. Before the court date, the applicant and the grandchild’s parents may need to meet with the mediator.

The law compels the grandmother to notify the parents and anybody else who has physical custody of the grandchild after the visitation papers have been filed. If the grandparent filed their petition in connection with an existing case involving the grandchild and their parents, they can send notice to each parent by certified mail, return receipt requested, with postage prepaid, to each parent’s last known address or to the case’s lawyer. If the grandparent needs to file a new case to request visitation, they must give personal service, which entails handing a copy of the paperwork to each parent and person with custody.

It’s also crucial that the applicant fills out evidence of service correctly, indicating that they served via certified mail. They should offer each parent a copy of the return receipt so that they can file it with the court.

After the parents have been notified, a court hearing in front of a judge or commissioner may be scheduled. Alternatively, the parties may be required to participate in mediation with Family Court Services to try to reach an agreement on visitation. If you can’t come to an agreement, the judge will make a decision based on the child’s best interests, balancing the child’s best interests with the parents’ rights.

Seek legal advice from a lawyer.

You have the right to petition to the court for visitation with your grandchild if you are a grandparent. Whether in a typical family court or through mediation, the grandchild’s parents will be required to participate in the filing process. Allow an experienced California family lawyer to assist you with the grandparent visitation filing procedure.

Spodek Law Group offers a free initial appointment to discuss your situation.



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