Grandparents’ Rights in California: A Guide for Grandparent Visitation Rights

The Law Offices of James L. Arrasmith
grandparents, love, married

In California, grandparents may petition the courts for visitation rights or custody of their grandchildren in certain circumstances. This guide explains grandparents’ rights and provides tips for grandparents navigating the legal system.

Overview of Grandparents’ Rights Under California Law

old people, married couple, together

California law allows grandparents to seek visitation or custody if:

  • One or both parents are deceased
  • The parents are divorcing or separated
  • The grandchild was adopted by a stepparent
  • The parents consent

Courts focus on the “best interest of the child” when evaluating grandparents’ petitions. Key factors considered include:

  • The existing grandparent-grandchild relationship
  • The child’s preferences
  • Parental fitness
  • Potential detriment or benefit to the child

“In our case, the judge really seemed to care about allowing my grandson to maintain the close bond he shared with us his grandparents,” said Mary Sanchez, who was granted visitation rights after her son divorced.

While grandparents are given consideration, courts uphold the rights of fit parents to ultimately make decisions regarding their children.

In certain circumstances, California law allows grandparents to petition for visitation rights or custody.

When Can Grandparents Seek Visitation Rights?

grandmother, kid, laptop

Grandparents have the strongest case for visitation when:

  • One or both of the grandchild’s parents are deceased. The remaining parent determines visitation unless the grandparents petition the court. With one parent deceased, grandparents have a better chance if they have an active, close relationship with the grandchild.
  • The parents are divorcing or legally separated. Grandparents can petition for reasonable visitation rights. However, courts prefer to let parents determine grandparent visitation after a divorce unless visitation is in the clear best interest of the child.
  • The child was adopted by a stepparent. In this situation, natural grandparents maintain visitation rights unless those rights are terminated by a court order.
  • The child was conceived via assisted reproductive technology and a parent objects to visitation. For example, if the child was conceived through IVF using an egg or sperm donor and a parent denies the donor’s parents visitation.

To win visitation rights, grandparents need to show evidence of a close, established relationship with the grandchild. Things that can help grandparents’ cases include photos together, school records listing grandparents as emergency contacts, and testimony on the time spent together.

Gaining Custody as Grandparents

Grandparents may seek custody of their grandchildren if:

  • The parents are proven unfit. This includes situations such as abuse, neglect, drug addiction, or abandonment. The grandparent must provide a safe, stable home environment.
  • The parents voluntarily relinquish custody. The parents consent to transferring custody to the grandparents, often due to personal challenges that prevent them from adequate parenting.
  • The child is a dependent of the court. If the state has become responsible for the child’s care due to serious parental problems. The court may grant custody to the grandparents rather than placing the child in foster care.

“We were able to show the judge ample evidence of our daughter’s problems with drugs and alcohol. While heartbreaking, gaining custody of our granddaughters was essential to protect them,” said Michael Davis, who was granted custody along with his wife.

To gain custody, grandparents must prove they can provide greater stability and care than the parents.

Factors Courts Consider | Grandparents’ Rights California

California judges weigh these factors when determining grandparents’ rights:

  • Existing relationship. The closeness of the current grandparent-grandchild bond. More contact time and shared experiences help grandparents’ cases.
  • Child’s wishes. The child’s preferences are considered, if old enough to express them. Courts may speak privately with an older child.
  • Mental and physical health. Relevant health issues of the grandparents that could impact their ability to care for the child.
  • History of abuse or substance use. Any domestic violence, drug abuse, or other concerning behavior by the grandparent seeking rights.
  • Parents’ fitness. The problems and challenges leading to the parents being deemed unfit in cases of seeking custody transfer.
  • Benefits and detriment. Whether denying visitation would harm the child vs. the benefit of maintaining the grandparent relationship.

Tips for Grandparents Seeking Rights

For grandparents preparing to petition the court for visitation rights or custody, useful steps include:

  • Consult an attorney. Have a family law attorney review your specific situation and rights.
  • Document your relationship. Gather evidence like photos, school records, and testimony showing your involvement in the child’s life.
  • Get a mental health evaluation. Have a psychological evaluation done to assess your parental fitness.
  • Be cooperative. Show that you aim to support the parents as well and work cooperatively with them, if possible.
  • Focus on the child’s needs. Stress to the court how granting rights will provide stability and benefit the child.

5 new points I haven’t covered yet in the article on grandparents’ rights in California:

Impact of siblings

  • If the grandparents are seeking visitation or custody of multiple siblings, keeping the siblings together is seen as ideal. Courts prefer not to separate siblings if possible.

Grandparent’s financial means

  • Courts may look at the grandparents’ income and resources to ensure they can financially provide for the grandchildren long-term, especially in custody cases.

Modifying existing orders

  • Grandparents can file petitions to modify existing visitation and custody orders if circumstances change, such as if the grandchild’s needs or safety are at risk.

Mediation and counseling

  • Judges may order family counseling or mediation between grandparents and parents to improve communication and attempt to resolve issues first before ruling on visitation or custody.

Differences between married vs. unmarried parents

  • Unmarried parents may face additional burdens defending their right to limit grandparent access compared to married parents who share constitutional rights.

Conclusion and Key Takeaways

  • California law recognizes certain grandparents’ rights, but parental rights are still given deference if parents are fit.
  • Grandparents have the strongest cases when parents are unfit, deceased, or agree to custody.
  • Courts focus on the child’s best interest above all when evaluating granting grandparents custody or visitation.

While pursuing custody or visitation can often lead to conflict with parents, remember that the priority should be on doing what is best for the grandchild’s well-being.

11 Things You Should Know about Grandparent Visitation Rights

  1. It is important for grandparents to maintain detailed records of their involvement in their grandchildren’s lives. Beyond photos and school documents, grandparents can keep logs of visits, gifts given, expenses paid for the grandkids, etc. These records help demonstrate the consistent, active role grandparents play.
  2. In mediation between grandparents and parents during visitation and custody disputes, having an experienced mediator is key. The mediator helps find common ground and guides both sides toward a compromise that upholds the child’s best interests. Quality mediation can resolve issues out of court.
  3. Unlike with parents, there is no legal obligation for grandparents to pay child support when granted custody or visitation rights in California. However, grandparents may choose to provide financial assistance voluntarily or agree to a set amount based on negotiations.
  4. If grandparents originally consented to the adoption of their grandchild, they typically waive legal visitation rights. But in stepparent adoptions, consent for adoption does not mean the grandparent forfeits visitation rights.
  5. Hiring a custody evaluator, also called a 730 expert, can significantly aid grandparents’ custody cases. The evaluator interviews all parties, observes interactions, and makes recommendations to the judge about optimal custody arrangements.
  6. Grandparents who were primary caregivers for an extended time may file for de facto parent status, entitling them to custody consideration on par with parents based on functioning in a parental role.
  7. In high-conflict custody cases between grandparents and parents, mediation and counseling are not always effective if parties are unwilling to compromise. Litigation may become necessary despite its challenges.

More

  1. If grandparents have serious health conditions that impact their ability to care for young grandchildren, it can negatively affect petitions for custody or overnight visitations. Judges consider health issues closely in assessing if grandparents can handle childcare responsibilities.
  2. Grandparents who live far distances, such as out-of-state, face more difficulties being granted visitation rights, especially over parents’ objections. Travel expenses and limited time together work against out-of-state grandparents.
  3. Mediators encourage grandparents seeking visitation or custody to focus conversations on their love for the grandchild and desire to be part of the child’s life, rather than leveling blame at the parents. Positive intentions aid compromise.
  4. Modifying custody orders is complex for grandparents, usually requiring another investigation and hearing. Grandparents must prove changed circumstances and that modification clearly benefits the child more than existing arrangements.

Related Terms: Child’s parents, parent’s whereabouts, grandparent visitation rights, California family law attorney, reasonable grandparent visitation, grandparents win custody, parents join, preexisting relationship, or her child, child custody, grandparent’s petition, experienced attorney, child’s health, grandparents visitation,

Client Reviews

James Arrasmith is one smart attorney! He understood my problem and came up with a great solution right away. I can depend on him to listen and ask the right questions to get straight to my issues. His availability is...

Alan Murphy

Hiring James to handle my eviction / landlord tenant case is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. He assisted me every step of the way and made the process smooth and easy. It was obvious that he truly cared about...

Monica Martínez alvarado

I've had a lot of attorneys in my life, and James is by far the best attorney that I've ever hired. He helped me with my case from start to finish and clearly explained the process to me without making it overly complex...

DD M

Great consultation, efficient, attorney. I needed possession of my home, Mr. Arrasmith acted swiftly and was able to provide me the information I needed to understand what could have been a lengthy process. Mr...

Nadia Faraci

James is an amazing attorney!! I had never hired a lawyer before (and was very nervous), but James took hours of his time to explain the entire procedure to me. He gave me a thorough consultation, and I was so impressed...

Ledi

James was the only person to answer the phone at 7am on a Saturday morning. My first phone call to him was as a scared and stressed woman with no idea on where to even begin to explain the sort of help I needed. James...

Renae Elise

James helped me with two landlord tenant issues. In both cases, I was able to expeditiously resolve my issue with the tenant. I appreciate his genuine care for his clients; a rare trait in an attorney. I would highly...

theresa26 r

I cannot begin to describe how amazing and reassuring it was to have James guide me through the most challenging moment of my life. When my mother let me know she would soon be passing from cancer and wanted to leave...

Tricia Matsis

James Arrasmith did a great job for me on my legal matter. From the first time I talked to him he was very professional and knew what he was talking about. I would recommend James Arrasmith to anyone who needs help with...

Alvin Warren

I can't express enough how much James put my heart at ease. He has really been dugiligant at getting things done vs what I have experienced before using other lawyers. Highly recommend James if your looking for trust...

Jeremy Rasmussen Finnif Skate

James Arrasmith is a fantastic attorney. He is respectful and knowledgeable! Always very responsive and really takes his time explaining everything so you can understand it. I would highly recommend you meet with James...

Andrew Noseworthy

Mr. Arrasmith was cocounsel on a complex case, but was able persuade a notoriously bad judge to go along with the resolution. He’s a fine lawyer that works hard to make sure he is prepared to win the case. I highly...

James Pearson

Highly recommend choosing James. He was extremely responsive always making sure I understood every step of the process. In addition, he would periodically check in with me before important decisions needed to be made.

Tulsi

He is experts and reasonable attorney.

Ahmad Ali Shinwary

Best attorney I ever worked with... he takes time to explain the whole process and and will make sure you are happy with his work. We did a living trust and he helped me with an eviction case. I highly recommend him!

Alina Cojocari

James is an excellent attorney. I recommend him to anyone who's looking for someone who cares and wants to help win their case! :)

Allen Esealuka

I had a few questions about my situation, I needed some legal advice so I went ahead and contacted the Arrasmith firm. James was very helpful and polite, I asked him about a dozen questions and will be pursuing llegal...

Amber Styles

I cannot begin to describe how amazing and reassuring it was to have James guide me through the most challenging moment of my life. When my mother let me know she would soon be passing from cancer and wanted to leave her...

Tricia

James is a professional with outstanding customer service. We hired him to take care of an issue for us and he delivered as promised. I highly recommend him if you have any ongoing legal issues. James it's absolute...

Aztec Gold99

He will go out of his way . The best lawyer in Sacramento!I don’t know what I would do without lawyer james.

Bryan

Very professional, understanding and willing to assist in any way he can. I am most definitely keeping James as my one stop shop lawyer.

Brad Naylor

I am so happy I found Mr. Arrasmith's law firm! I couldn't have been happier with my decision to hire James. He took my case from point A to point Z and kept me informed every step of the way. If I ever need an attorney...

Bryce Colburn

James is a wonderful addition to the legal community. He is hard working, bright and ethical. He goes the extra mile for his clients.

Caitlin Ross

He was a great attorney.

Devon Campbell

I contacted Mr. Arrasmith regarding a disability related inquiry for a family member. Mr. Arrasmith provided excellent and immediate responses to my questions. I felt as though he truly cared about the well being of my...

Anonymous

Great consultation, efficient, & positive attorney. I needed possession of my home, Mr. Arrasmith acted swiftly and was able to provide me the information I needed to understand what could have been a lengthy process...

Nadia

I had a few questions about my situation, I needed some legal advice so I went ahead and contacted the Arrasmith firm. James was very helpful and polite, I asked him about a dozen questions and will be pursuing llegal...

Amber

James is a great guy. He has helped me to start a very difficult case. That I was nervous to do. He has made me Confident that he will fight hard on my case.

Rachel

I am so happy I made a decision to hire James to help me with my case. He was very professional and assisted me every step of the way. I was able to get a very positive settlement on my case. I couldn’t be happier!

Ledi

James has helped me tremendously with my legal matter by going over all the forms with me and clearly explaining how to complete them. He has made everything easy for me. I am very glad I called James!

Patty

James did a great job helping us with getting our settlement. Followed up in timely manners and updates always provided. Thank you for your help!

Anonymous

Gave James smith a call late at night with an immediate answer, he is very quick to respond and was eager to answer any questions I had.

Erika

Mr. Arrasmith was great, he answered all my questions and was very helpful with my legal matter. Thanks again James.

Alvin

Mr. Arrasmith was great, he answered all my questions and was very helpful with my legal matter. Thanks again James.

Alvin

Mr. Arrasmith was cocounsel on a complex case, but was able persuade a notoriously bad judge to go along with the resolution. He’s a fine lawyer that works hard to make sure he is prepared to win the case. I highly...

James

I've had a lot of attorneys in my life, and James is by far the best attorney that I've ever hired. He helped me with my case from start to finish and clearly explained the process to me without making it overly complex...

Darren

James is a great lawyer! He is honest and very trustworthy. He will give you sound legal advice.

Jason Motto

Great service and customer service. Very professional too, thanks James and Maria!! Having a bilingual attorney who knows so many different aspects of the law is a BIG plus.

JC R

I found James online after an extensive search. He was knowledgeable and worked with me on a payment plan I could afford. I'm happy I picked him for dealing with my awful landlord. He helped me get the settlement I...

Jenn C

Lawyer James Arrasmith For me He very was very approachable and likeable as a person . I felt very comfortable with the knowledge, and information shared for our case. which we got desired result from. He to me is a...

John Davis

James is a wonderful lawyer and person! He is hardworking , ethical, quick and effective lawyer! He knows what he is doing.

Ka Saelee

James Arrasmith always does amazing job helping me with my landlord and tenant cases!! He is my go-to attorney when I need assistance in evicting tenants. I like how he also represents tenants as well as landlords - so...

Kerry Davis

No one likes to need an attorney, but when you do, James is amazing to have in your corner! He is smart, professional, patient, and always makes sure his client is comfortable and confident with the next steps. I refer...

Kristen Trexler

Best lawyer he will get the job done went out of his way totally

Larry Yabut

Mr. Arrasmith and his team are amazing. Mr. Arrasmith is very knowledgeable and has been amazing through our whole process. He treats people like a human being and not a paycheck, I would highly recommend him to...

Magan Mellinger

No one likes to need an attorney, but when you do, James is amazing to have in your corner! He is smart, professional, patient, and always makes sure his client is comfortable and confident with the next steps. I refer...

Kristen

I would highly recommend James. I did lots of research searching for a great Attorney in the area. He makes you feel hopeful during a difficult times. His knowledge and expertise was great!

Maria Guardado

I had a personal issue and needed to consult with a lawyer. James Arrasmith took his time to explain everything so that I could understand exactly what my options were and the best way to go about my next move. I would...

Mark Hodges

A Very Nice, Personable Attorney/Person!! He is Very Patient and Willing to Listen to My {Tour} Case/Problems>I would Highly Recommend James to Anyone Seeking Fair and Equitable Justice!! Mark, CA.

Mark Loeffler

Thank you Mr James for helping me. What a great attorney! If you need help call Mr Arrowsmith!

Marva Davis

I give James Arrowsmith Attorney at Law 5 stars not just because he supports and represents CAED (our Non- Profit Organization that works with children ) but also because of how decent a person I've found him ...

Marvell Wilson

I was sooooo nervous about my case until I called James. He literally made the entire process simple and easy for me. I cannot recommend him highly enough! He is the most amazing attorney I’ve ever had!

Peyton

James has helped me tremendously with my legal matter by going over all the forms with me and clearly explaining how to complete them. He has made everything easy for me. I am very glad I called James!

Patsa Hin-udom

I am Latina and my English is not very good, therefore the attorney made sure that there was an assistant who spoke Spanish and who translated everything he told me and answered all my questions. Excellent service, I...

Paula Barriga

James is fantastic! He answered all of my questions and gave me clear guidance. If you are looking for an experienced and knowledgable attorney, I highly recommend James. Amazing Lawyer!

peyton cooks

James has a very good heart. He takes his cases personally as if it was him. He is a very nice understanding guy

Rachel Ottley

James is very knowledgeable, professional, and dependable. He patiently guided me through my estate planning and pre-nuptial questions, and made both processes much easier for me to understand. Highly recommended.

Sanat Sahasrabudhe

James arasmith is an excellent attorney when I needed help or advice he was always there to answer my calls or emails a very kind person listens & cares.

Tariq Johnson

Thank you so much for being highly responsive. Making I understand every step of the process. As well as checking in with me before important decisions need to be made.

Tulsi Patel

Very friendly, personable, and professional. I was able to get through my legal issue relatively smoothly and had exceptional support through the entire process. Pricing was reasonable and the billing process was not...

V Cat

I had some legal questions, and contacted James Arrasmith Law firm. His response was quick, and very helpful.

vera vlasenko

I highly recommend James Arrasmith. He really listens to your needs & truly cares about his clients. He is very professional & provides great results!

Vicky Tisdale

Contact Us Now

CF-pic.png

(916) 704-3009