Understanding Grandparents’ Rights in California

Guidelines for Visiting Grandma and Grandpa

Children may need as much support as possible after a divorce, and their grandparents may be an excellent source of that help. After a divorce, however, the child’s grandparents may not be sure what their rights are. Here is what you should know about grandparents’ visitation rights in California.

When They Can Visit

The parents of a child can always allow the grandparents to visit, and there does not need to be a court order for this. However, some situations occur in which the grandparents are unable to see their grandchildren, either through a parent not allowing them to or through other circumstances; in these scenarios, grandparents can request visitation from the court.

Grandparents cannot seek visitation rights if the child’s parents are still married; however, they can still seek visitation in spite of this if one of the following factors exists:

  • The child’s parents are separated indefinitely.

  • The child is not residing with a parent.

  • The child has been adopted by a stepparent.

  • One of the parents has been absent for over a month and their whereabouts are not currently known.

If one of these factors exists, then grandparents may file for visitation in spite of the child’s parents’ marriage; however, if the factor ceases to exist, then the grandparents will lose visitation upon court request.

Requirements for Visitation

California courts will only grant grandparent visitation if the following conditions are met:

  • The court must find that the child and the grandparents have a bond that means visitation serves the best interests of the child (this bond is known as an engendered bond).

  • The court can determine that grandparent visitation serves the best interests of a child while also maintaining a parent’s rights to make decisions for their child.

The court will still examine custody factors similar to those that decide California custody cases when determining whether or not to award grandparent visitation.

Seeking the Help of an Attorney

While grandparent visitation can certainly be determined within the family, some situations prevent peaceful negotiation from occurring. If this is true of your situation, it’s important to speak with a family law attorney who can help you navigate grandparent visitation and keep you informed of your rights.

At TRABOLSI | LEVY | GABBARD LLP, we understand how important it is to maintain a relationship with your grandchild. We are here to help you defend your rights and navigate the legal process while working toward a favorable resolution.


To schedule a consultation with a family law attorney or to get started, call us at (310) 455-8364 or visit us online.

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