Your relationship with your children may not have always been great, but you might hope to make things right by having an excellent relationship with your grandchildren. There’s a special bond between grandparents and their grandchildren – but there’s also a special legal connection. If your child or their spouse or partner doesn’t want you to see your grandkids, you may still have the legal right to get access. Just like divorced or separated parents, you may be able to get visitation rights to spend time with your grandchildren, even if their parents object. It may be an uphill battle, but the Ventura grandparents’ rights attorneys at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth may be able to help. Call our law offices today for a free consultation.
Visitation Rights for Grandparents
California law allows “visitation” rights for those parents who do not have significant physical custody rights, but still want to spend time with their children. Visitation may be limited to a few hours supervised visitation, or it could be something as frequent as every other weekend. Either way, it is one level of child custody. If you are a grandparent, you may also be able to get visitation rights similar to what a parent gets.
Visitation like this can be part of a court order. This means the force of law is behind the judge’s decision to allow you to have visitation rights, and even the parents cannot stand between you and your grandkids. However, something as strong as a court order may not always be necessary. If one parent allows you to have a relationship with your grandkids, you may not need to take the case as far as court, and an unofficial solution might be enough.
If you do go to court to enforce your rights as a grandparent, it’s usually because of some family issue. It may be that your child does not trust you with the grandkids, or that their spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t want you around their children. Especially if this turns into an argument, or you are completely cut off from your grandchildren, you may need to turn to the court system.
Getting Grandparent Visitation Rights
Grandparents are only allowed to go to court to claim visitation rights if they already have a preexisting relationship with their grandkids. Newborns or grandchildren you never knew about may ultimately be better off with their grandparents in their lives, but there is no bond there that the court would like to enforce. Instead, if you already have a relationship with your grandkids, and have formed a “bond” with them, courts may be willing to order visitation.
Parents have broad authority to control their children’s lives, and courts generally respect this right. Thus, if your grandchild’s parents want you out of their kid’s life, courts take that into account. However, if courts think the grandparent-grandchild relationship is a good thing for the child, they might overrule the parent’s authority. Weighing the child’s best interest against the parent’s right to make decisions is one of the primary factors in this decision.
The child’s best interests is, ultimately, the final deciding factor. If both parents want the grandparents out of the child’s life, courts will presume from the beginning that it is outside the child’s best interests. This means you must prove, as the grandparent, that the relationship is indeed in the child’s best interests before they will grand visitation.
Challenges for Grandparents Seeking Visitation Rights
If your grandchildren’s parents are married, and neither parent wants you in their children’s lives, you are unfortunately blocked from even requesting visitation. CA law sees this as a strong decision by parents to block the grandparent from their grandchildren’s lives, and will not override the parents’ decision. However, you can still apply for visitation under certain conditions if the parents are married.
You can apply for visitation with the children of married parents if at least one of the following factors is present:
- The parents live separately;
- One parent’s location has been unknown for at least one month;
- One parent is on your side and joins your petition;
- The child lives separately from both parents; or
- The grandchild’s stepparent adopted them.
In these cases, courts are willing to overcome the strong parental authority that comes from a unified, married couple, and may still grand visitation. If the situation changes, and all of these factors are eliminated, the parents may move to terminate the visitation order and once again block the grandparent’s visitation rights.
Lastly, no adult with a protective order against them can get visitation rights. This means that abusive parents, grandparents, or others will not be permitted access to a child the order was written to protect.
Ventura CA Grandparents’ Rights Lawyer
If you are a grandparent seeking to improve the relationship you have with your grandchildren, you may need to take your case to court. Without a court order granting you visitation rights, the parents of your grandchildren may be able to block your access entirely. If you have family law dispute, contact a Ventura family law attorney like those at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth today. Our lawyers offer free consultations on new cases. Call (805) 585-5056 today for your free consultation.