Are you a grandparent hoping to obtain legal visitation rights to your grandchild in California? Ultimately, it's possible -- even if your relationship with your grandchild's parents is rocky. However, it isn't necessarily a simple or easy process.
The conditions that must be met
You can usually only sue for visitation of a grandchild over a parent's objections when:
- The parents are unmarried
- The parents are married but living apart
- One of the parents is missing (for a month or longer)
- One of the parents supports your petition
- The grandchild is not living with either parent
- A stepparent has adopted your grandchild
Absent these conditions, the court presumes that forcing visitation against a parent's wishes is too much of an intrusion on their rights.
The questions that must be answered
If your situation meets one of those conditions, the court then has to weigh the interests of the parent against those of the child. When making the decision to grant or deny a grandparent visitation, the judge will consider two things:
- Your existing relationship with your grandchild, including its duration and depth. The stronger your bond with your grandchild and the more you can document that bond, the more weight the judge will give it.
- Whether or not it is in the child's best interests that your relationship continue -- despite parental objections.
The judge will likely consider the reason for the parent's objections to determine if it is an issue that could confuse or upset the child -- or whether it is an issue that only concerns the adults.
The evidence you need to offer
A lot of grandparents in your situation are stymied about what they can offer as evidence of a bond with their grandchildren. Some useful evidence might include:
- Cards your grandchild has sent you
- Drawings and gifts your grandchild has given you
- Receipts for times you spent with your grandchild
- Receipts for clothes, school supplies and toys you bought your grandchild
You may also want to submit a diary or a log of conversations you've had with your grandchild, including things like the favorite books you read together, the games you play, what you talk about and what plans you've made.
If you're struggling with the issue of suing for grandparent's visitation rights, find out more about how you can proceed.