As a Grandparent How Do You Secure Visitation Rights
If you’re a grandparent, and would like to spend time with your grandchild, there may be a possibility that you could win legally protected visitation rights. You may need to file in court to make it happen. This article looks at how you might request the court to grant you grandparental visitation rights.
If you have a grandchild, you probably want to spend as much time with them, as possible. This simple need can become complicated, however, when the child’s parents split up. Fortunately, you can ask the court to help you secure your right to spend time with your grandchild. The law in California allows for grandparental visitation rights. Talking to an experienced family lawyer could help you take advantage of the provisions of the law to make this possible.
Making sure that your case qualifies
Before you begin taking actual steps to secure visitation rights, it’s important to think about how well your case qualifies under the law. The law has a couple of open-ended requirements when it comes to making visitation happen. To begin, you need to have a good, ongoing relationship with the child. Secondly, your desire for visitation must balance with the custody arrangements and other decisions that the parents have made for the child. Fortunately, these requirements aren’t strictly worded in the law, meaning that there is much latitude for interpretation that the court can take advantage of to grant you time.
The situation with the parents determines your visitation rights
It’s important to understand that it can be hard for grandparents to win visitation rights while the parents of the child are married and together. It is usually easier to gain grandparental visitation rights in circumstances in which one of the following conditions is met:
- The parents don’t live together, whether married or not.
- One of the parents has taken off and remained out of touch for at least a month.
- At least one parent is willing to go along with your request for visitation rights.
- The child doesn’t live with either parent.
- The child has been adopted by a stepparent.
Visitation may be denied in some cases
Grandparental visitation is only granted if the court decides that it’s in the best interests of the child to do so. Multiple factors could make the court take an unfavorable view of placing a grandparent in a child’s life:
- The grandparent has a history of abusive behavior.
- One of the parents has a personal protection order against the grandparent.
- The grandparent never showed interest in the child prior to filing for visitation.
- Both parents are together, and have the child living with them.
How do you file for visitation?
Visitation isn’t easy to obtain, but you can make it as straightforward as possible by following the rules. It’s important to talk to a family lawyer to help carry the process forward.
Make sure there is no ongoing case in court: Before you can put in an application for grandparental visitation, you need to determine that the family doesn’t have an ongoing case in court already, for divorce or custody. You are able to ask the court clerk about possible open cases. If there are no ongoing cases, you may ask them for the forms that you need to file for a visitation order.
Complete the forms: The forms can be complicated. Unless you’re certain about your ability to fill everything out without making mistakes, it would make sense to go to a family lawyer to do the forms correctly. You will need to provide the court with reasons for your request by filing a Request for Order, as well.
File your paperwork: Both your attorney and the court clerk should read through your paperwork to make sure that everything is correct, and you should make three copies of all of it. The court keeps the original, and you and parents, each get a copy. Then, your attorney files the forms with the court.
Get your court date: When you file your forms in court, the court clerk may provide you with a date for a hearing, which could be for mediation, or an appearance before a judge.
File proof: Each parent involved, even stepparents, must receive a copy of the forms. They should be allowed at least 16 days after receipt of the forms, to prepare for the court date. You need to furnish proof to the court that you’ve served the parents.
Show up on the date: On the date of the mediation or court appearance before a judge, you need to be present — to either reach an agreement, or hear the judge’s decision.
Tips for the best outcome
It’s important to understand that the child’s best interests are the primary consideration for the law in a grandparental visitation petition. To make sure that you’re able to demonstrate that granting visitation would be a good thing for the child, it could help to create and build a file over a period of time, in which you document in detail the time that you spend with the child, along with times, dates, phone call durations, photos, and so on.
It is important to go in with a realistic view of the process. There’s no guarantee that you will prevail in court. Having an attorney help you take your case forward, however, gives you the best chance possible.