Grandparents’ Rights

Grandparents can petition for visitation

Preserving the Bond with Grandchildren

It can be heartbreaking when grandparents are separated from the lives of their grandchildren, or when grandparents watch helplessly as their grandchildren are subjected to abuse or neglect. California law gives grandparents the right to intercede, but they must prove they qualify to assert those rights.

We can help. The Certified Family Law Specialists at Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC understand how to advocate successfully on behalf of grandparents to protect their grandchildren and serve the best needs of the family.

Discuss Your Case with an Experienced Family Attorney

At Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC, our Southern California family law attorneys can provide you with clear information regarding your rights as a grandparent. Whatever the circumstances of your case, we can help you navigate your legal options through aggressive representation and legal advocacy.

Gaining the Right to Visitation

At one time, courts in California routinely awarded grandparents the right to visit with their grandchildren regardless of the parents’ objections. That changed after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that focused on the right of parents to have final decisions in the upbringing of their children. Lawmakers in many states, including California, then adopted statutes that placed strict conditions on the situations where grandparents could assert a legal right to visitation.

Now, if parents do not want to allow grandparents an appropriate amount of interaction with their grandchildren, grandparents can only apply for visitation rights if:

  • One or both of the child’s parents are dead
  • The child’s parents are divorced or living apart
  • One parent has been missing for more than a month
  • One parent agrees that the grandparents should have visitation rights
  • One parent is confined in jail or an institution
  • The child has been adopted by a stepparent
  • The child is not living with either parent

It is important to note that these situations just provide a starting point in the process of obtaining visitation rights.

The law includes a presumption that when a parent with custody objects to the child’s visitation with grandparents, then it is in the child’s best interests not to have visitation. Grandparents need to present evidence to overcome this legal presumption, and that is one reason experienced legal representation can make such a difference in the outcome of a grandparents’ rights case.

Demonstrating That Visitation in in the Child’s Best Interests

Courts are required under the law to balance the parents’ right to exercise parental authority against the child’s interests in having visitation with the grandparent. Note that there is no mention of balancing the rights or interests of the grandparents because their interests are not relevant in this type of legal situation. It does no good to argue how much you lose by not having contact with your grandchildren. Instead, you need to demonstrate how much your grandchildren will miss if they lose contact with you.

First, you need to establish that you had a preexisting relationship with the child. Hoping to start a relationship now is not reason enough. It is difficult to gauge the harm to a child’s life from a relationship that never existed in the first place.

After establishing that a relationship exists, you need to show that the relationship created a bond that is important enough that breaking this bond would harm the child. The experienced team at Holstrom, Block & Parke can help you present persuasive evidence to satisfy these requirements.

Seeking Custody of a Grandchild

When a grandparent wants to gain custody of a grandchild who is living with parents or other family members, they must be prepared to demonstrate that the child is at risk in the current custody situation. Grandparents cannot simply argue that they would be better in the parental role. Rather they must show that the parents are unfit. Demonstrating that a child has been abused or neglected could meet this threshold, particularly if grandparents can show that the parents are unable to provide proper care due to mental illness or substance abuse.

Once a grandparent gains temporary custody of a grandchild, it can be much easier to gain custody in the long term.

Evidence is Crucial

Whether seeking visitation or custody, evidence is the key to reaching your goals. You need evidence of the bond between you and your grandchild. If you need to demonstrate that the parents are unfit, you need evidence of how abuse, neglect, or other problems have the potential to harm the child.

The knowledgeable team of grandparents’ rights lawyers at Holstrom, Block & Parke can help you gather and preserve valuable evidence to build your case, and ensure that the evidence is presented in the way that best supports your objectives.

Protect Your Rights as a Grandparent

When the future of your grandchild is at stake, you cannot afford to take chances. Work with the dedicated family law attorneys at Holstrom, Block, & Parke to protect your grandchild now and in the days ahead. For a confidential consultation to learn more about the ways we can help, contact us now.