Grandparent Visitation in California

Child custody and visitation rights cases happen on a very regular basis in the United States. It is often assumed that these proceedings affect the two biological parents that go through the court system and all of their immediate offspring. However, this is not always the case. Today, child custody proceedings take a variety of forms and affect a multitude of people. Grandparents are those oftentimes affected by child custody arrangements. 

When two individuals go through a divorce or end their relationship, it may affect how often other family members, including grandparents, are able to see the children. These extended family members may wish to protect their own visitation rights. Often times, grandparent visitation can be resolved out of court if all of the primary parties sit does to discuss a schedule that works for everyone involved. However, when parties are unable to compromise, the Courts may find a solution.

Under California law, a grandparent is able to ask the court for reasonable visitation with a grandchild (California Family Code, § 3104). In order to grant this reasonable visitation, the court must find that there was a pre-existing relationship between the grandparent and the grandchild that has “engendered a bond.” However, the Court’s discretion in granting this visitation was limited by Troxel v. Granville (530 U.S. 57 (2000)).

In Troxel v. Granville, the Supreme Court held that although state laws exist that allow visitation between grandparents and grandchildren to occur, parents have the right to socialize their children with who they see fit – including with relatives. However, exceptions do exist. If you are a grandparent, seeking to gain visitation rights with your grandchild, speak with an attorney to find out if an exception may apply to you