Family Law Attorney Serving Modesto, CA
After a major family change that affects which parent a child lives with—such as a divorce or legal separation—grandparents can end up being left out of the picture. A parent with child custody might try to keep a child from seeing his or her grandparents, even when it comes to short visits. This can end up being damaging to the child, especially if the grandparent had previously served as a strong pillar of support in the child's life. This type of situation can also be very painful for the grandparent. It is important for grandparents in California to know that the state grants them certain rights when it comes to visiting their grandsons and granddaughters.
Legal Guidance from Scott Mitchell Law Incorporated
If you are currently dealing with this type of situation, it is important for you to seek legal counsel so you can ensure that your rights are being fully protected. Modesto Family Law Attorney Scott Mitchell is able to help individuals who are dealing with grandparents' rights issues and various other matters related to family law.
Scott Mitchell Law Incorporated—which serves residents of Modesto, Stockton and Turlock in California—provides valuable information about what types of protections grandparents are given when divorce, legal separation and other events keep them away from their grandchildren.
When Can Grandparents' Visitation Rights Be Granted?
According to California law (Family Code §3103-3104), a grandparent is entitled to ask for "reasonable visitation" with his or her grandchild in many different types of situations, including divorce. While grandparents generally cannot make this type of request when the child's parents are still married, specific exceptions do apply. A few of these include when the parents are married, but:
- The parents do not live together
- The child does not live with either parent
- A stepparent adopted the child
- The whereabouts of a parent is unknown (for a period of at least a month)
- The grandparent is joined by one of the parents in his or her petition for visitation rights
In order for a court to grand visitation rights, the court must make a couple of findings. First, it must be able to find that there was previously a relationship, or "bond, between the grandparent and his or her grandchild—particularly one that suggests that visitation is in the grandchild's best interests. Second, the court must take that determination regarding the child's best interests (from visitation) and balance it with the parents' rights to make decisions for their child.
In addition to these general findings, the court might also need to consider other factors when making a decision about grandparents' visitation rights. For example, the court could deny visitation rights to a grandparent if such rights would conflict with the visitation or custody of a birth parent who is not involved in the legal proceeding.
In certain cases, grandparents can even go a step further and request guardianship, particularly if the parents have not been able to care for the child. For example, this might apply in situations in which the parents are in jail or are dealing with drug issues and the grandparent has already been caring for the child.
Importance of Obtaining Strong Legal Representation
When you are dealing with grandparents' visitation rights, you have a lot at stake—the future relationship between you and your grandchild. That is why it is so important to hire a knowledgeable family law attorney who fully understands California's law regarding your legal matter and who can help you best safeguard your rights.
Dealing with legal matters can often be complicated and intimidating. Having a strong legal advocate on your side can, however, make the situation much more manageable. Attorney Mitchell has personally handled more than 2,500 family law cases, so he has the experience you need to effectively push for positive results in your case. Call Scott Mitchell Law Incorporated today to learn about your legal options!