Leon F. Bennett, Esq.
Los Angeles and Ventura County Grandparent Rights Attorney
Per California law, a grandparent has the right to file for reasonable visitation with their grandchild, particularly if the court finds that the grandparent has a close, pre-existing relationship with the grandchild. As with any family legal matter that involves children, the best interest of the child is paramount to the court to make the best judgement. The rights of natural parents to make decisions for the upbringing of their children is always the most important priority, but the court will balance the child’s best interest with allowing visitation of the grandparent.
Defining Grandparent Rights
Historically in California, grandparent visitation has not always been guaranteed or even permitted. In recent years, however, the family dynamics have changed as today’s households often consist of multi-generational family members. Oftentimes, grandparents are raising, supporting or caring for children in the family, and with that changing family landscape, California law has evolved to address visitation – and sometimes even custody – rights as they pertain to grandparents.
Grandparents can petition for visitation of children for a variety of reasons including:
- The grandchild’s parents die
- The parents are missing and whereabouts have been unknown for one month or more
- While a family law case is pending and custody is at issue
- The parents are not married to each other
- The parents live in separate households
There are many legal nuances for a grandparent to be granted visitation rights based on a number of circumstances including if the natural parents are married or divorced, if the parents have shown unacceptable behavior befitting healthy parenting duties or are suddenly missing for over one month. In addition, if you are a grandparent and are solely taking care of your grandchild and raising your grandchild, you can seek custody, or guardianship, over the grandchild.
The key to any visitation or even custody case is always, “What’s best for the children.” The court must determine that a pre-existing “bond” existed between the child and the grandparent to award visitation rights. Our Family Law services based in Woodland Hills can help grandparents understand their legal rights as it pertains to their specific situation and help advise the best solution for the children involved.