If you are a grandparent, chances are you still want to be part of your grandchildren's lives even after a divorce. In fact, you might be worried about the future of your visitation rights once the process is over. While parents can always choose to allow grandparents to visit their children without a court order, some parents might attempt to prevent the children's grandparents from visiting them at all. In such cases, you are not without legal recourse. It is your right to petition the court for visitation rights. At Westover Law Group, our family law attorneys in Murrieta can assist you securing these rights, allowing you to be part of the lives of your grandchildren.
WHEN CAN A GRANDPARENT ASK FOR VISITATION?
In California, grandparents cannot file for visitation rights if the parents of the children are still married. One of the following scenarios must exist for the grandparents to petition the court for visitation rights:
- The parents of the children are separated
- The whereabouts of one of the parents have been unknown for at least a month
- One of the parents joins the grandparents' request for visitation rights
- The children do not live with either parent
- The children were adopted by a stepparent
- One of the parents is incarcerated or has been involuntarily institutionalized
If a grandparent is able to successfully obtain visitation rights based on any of the aforementioned scenarios, and the situation reverses, the parents of the children have the right to ask the court to terminate grandparent visitation. If separated parents were to move back in with one another, for example, they could request grandparent visitation to end.
DECIDING WHETHER TO GRANT GRANDPARENT VISITATION RIGHTS
If you choose to file for grandparent visitation rights, you must serve a copy of the petition to each of the children's parents, stepparents, or any other individual who has physical custody of the children. The case will automatically be sent to mediation to see if it can be resolved in a less contentious manner. If it is unsuccessful, you will have a hearing before a judge.
To determine whether or not granting grandparent visitation rights would serve the best interests of the children, the court will consider several factors, including:
- The health, safety, and well-being of the children
- Whether there is a history of domestic abuse for anyone seeking custody or visitation
- Whether anyone seeking custody or visitation has a substance abuse problem
- The nature and frequency of contact between the person seeking custody and the children
Oftentimes, in these cases, a judge must determine if there is a pre-existing relationship between the grandparents and the grandchildren and if that relationship is in the best interests of the children to continue. Additionally, if the children are 14 years of age or older, the judge will take their opinions into account on this matter.
In cases where the court grants grandparent visitation with the children, a judge might also choose to order a parent or grandparent to pay child support for limited purposes, including transportation and daycare costs. If the children need to take a flight or other method of transportation to visit, the grandparents would likely be ordered to pay the transportation costs to the parent.
Grandparents' Rights Attorney in Murrieta
At Westover Law Group, our Murrieta family law attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of those who have been impacted by a divorce. If you want to secure visitation rights and continue to be involved in the lives of your grandchildren, you can rely on us to effectively represent you and the interests of your family. Contact us today for a free consultation.
All calls are answered 24/7! Call us at (951) 643-0085 and get started on protecting your rights!