When parents get divorced, a new custody arrangement can affect grandparents' rights as well. Grandparents often play a significant role in raising grandchildren. As a result, California gives grandparents rights to their grandchildren in some cases. Knowledgeable family law attorney Roseline D. Feral recognizes that sensitive and complex issues may arise in these situations. As a San Diego grandparents’ rights lawyer, she can advocate for the interests of grandparents who are seeking to preserve their relationship with their grandchildren. She can also represent parents who are reluctant to encourage this relationship.Grandparents’ Rights May Raise Challenging Questions
Across the country, approximately 2.7 million grandparents are raising their grandchildren, according to census figures. The number of grandparents raising grandchildren has risen by 7 percent since 2009, and the trend is expected to continue.
Parents can always choose to allow grandparents to visit grandchildren without a court order. However, in some cases, parents may try to prevent their children from having contact with the grandparents for various reasons. In these instances, the grandparents may be able to petition the court for visitation. Under California law, grandparents cannot petition for visitation rights when the parents of a child are still married. This is because parents have a fundamental right to make decisions for their child related to any issues regarding the care, custody, companionship, and management of the child. While this right is compelling, it is not absolute, which is why courts will sometimes allow grandparent visitation even if a parent requests that there be no grandparent visitation.
Under the California Family Code, a family court may grant reasonable visitation rights to a grandparent of a minor child. It is up to the court to decide what should be considered reasonable. A grandparents’ rights attorney can explain to San Diego residents what may be reasonable in a certain situation. Grandparents can petition for visitation if the following conditions are met:
- The parents are separated;
- One parent’s whereabouts have been unknown for at least one month;
- One of the parents joins the grandparents in the request for grandparent visitation;
- The child does not reside with either parent;
- The child has been adopted by a stepparent; or
- One of the parents is in jail or involuntarily institutionalized.
Visitation rights are based on a pre-existing relationship that has created a bond between the grandparent and the grandchild. In making a determination about grandparent visitation, the court must balance the “best interests of the child” with the parent’s fundamental right and authority to make decisions about the child. It is the grandparent’s burden to prove that visitation would be in the child’s best interest. It is important to note that grandparents in California do not lose their rights if a stepparent adopts their grandchild.
California courts may also award custody to the child’s parents or to any other person who may provide a good home for the child. A court’s first priority will be to place the child with one or both of the parents. However, if neither parent can take custody, the court may award custody to the grandparents, depending on whether or not it would be in the best interest of the child. In order to obtain grandparent visitation rights, the grandparents must first file a petition requesting grandparent visitation rights with the court. If a family law case between the grandchild’s parents has already been filed with the court, such as a divorce or paternity case, the grandparents can join that case and ask for visitation rights. On the other hand, if a family law case has not been initiated regarding the grandchild, the grandparents are required to file a petition requesting visitation rights and open a case with the family court.Contact a Grandparents’ Rights Lawyer in San Diego or Neighboring Cities
If you are a grandparent wanting to know more about your rights under California law, Roseline D. Feral can help. With nearly 30 years of experience, she understands how to navigate these types of cases. You can rest assured that Attorney Feral will take the time to understand your needs and vigilantly protect your interests at every step of the way. She represents people who need a child custody lawyer or assistance with other family law matters in cities such as Chula Vista, Coronado, Del Mar, Carlsbad, Encinitas, La Jolla, Oceanside, Escondido, Ramona, Rancho Santa Fe, San Marcos, Valley Center, and Vista. You can contact us online or call us at 619-232-1010, or you can call Attorney Feral directly at 619-301-1191 for a free consultation with a San Diego grandparents’ rights attorney.