Guide on Grandparent Visitation Rights in Orange County, California?
Learn about Visitation Rights in Orange County if you have a special relationship with your grandchildren and you want to spend as much time with them as possible.
Unfortunately, sometimes certain circumstances may restrict access to your grandchild.
If you and your grandchild already have a healthy relationship and unbreakable bond, the courts may grant you visitation rights.
So, how can a grandparent obtain visitation rights in Orange County, California?
Each case is unique so there isn't anyone right or wrong answer to that question.
It's important to understand how the legal process works as well as where your rights begin and end as a grandparent.
Always, make sure to discuss your case with a qualified lawyer before filing any legal paperwork.
Custody & visitation rights for grandparents in Orange County, CA
Under the right circumstances, grandparents may request custody and visitation.
Before you consider going forward with a case, make sure your situation meets the following criteria:
- You have already established a bond and relationship with your grandchild.
- Your request for visitation must balance with the parents' custody agreement and decisions they've made for the child.
Both of those conditions are pretty general and open to interpretation. Generally, the court will grant visitation if spending time with the grandparent is in the child's best interests.
How the parents' situation matters
If both parents are married and living together, it's pretty difficult for a grandparent to request visitation.
The courts are more likely to grant visitation to a grandparent if one of the following conditions are met:
- The parents live separately (married or otherwise)
- One parent's whereabouts are unknown for at least one month
- One parent signs-on to the grandparent's visitation request
- The grandchild doesn't live with either parent
- A stepparent has adopted the grandchild
Factors that could interfere with custody & visitation rights for grandparents in Orange County, CA
If a judge doesn't believe the visitation is in the grandchild's best interests then they will not sign the order.
Many situations could cause a judge to deny visitation.
- The grandparent has a history of domestic violence or abusive behavior.
- One parent has filed a personal protection order against the grandparent.
- The grandparent had no relationship with the child prior to filing the order.
- The parents are currently married and living together with the child.
How can a grandparent obtain visitation rights in Orange County, California?
Obtaining visitation rights is never an easy or simple process, but as long as you follow these steps you can avoid over-complicating the matter.
Make sure you discuss your case with an attorney. They can help you file all the proper paperwork and ensure that all your documents and evidence are in order.
This allows your case to flow smoothly which avoids errors and delays.
Check if there is an open case
Before doing anything, you'll want to check if there is already an open family court case.
If the parents have already gone through a divorce, separation, or custody agreement, then there is likely an open case. Ask the clerk at the local court about open cases and then ask for the proper paperwork.
Fill out the forms
Take your forms to a qualified attorney to avoid errors and mistakes. Unless you're a legal expert, you'll probably miss or forget something.
You'll need to file a Request for Order explaining that you are requesting visitation as well as your reason.
Review, make copies, and file your paperwork
Your attorney as well as the local court clerk should look over your paperwork and make sure everything is in order. Make sure you've filled out all the forms you need for your particular case. Some local districts may request extra forms.
Make three copies: one for you, and two for your grandchild's parents. The courts keep the original.
After you've made copies, file your forms with the court clerk or have your attorney do this.
Receive your court date
At the time of filing, the clerk may give you a court date.
This event could take place as a mediation, a court appearance in front of a judge, or both.
Parents receive the forms and you file proof
After filing paperwork with the courts, you'll need to serve your grandchild's parents with papers. All parents who have custody of the child must receive papers – this could potentially include stepparents.
The parents must receive these forms within 16 days of the court date and in certain cases, these forms must be served in-person.
After parents receive the forms, you must file proof. You'll need to specify who served the parents, how the papers were received, and when the serving took place.
Attend your court hearing
During mediation, a mediator will meet with you and the parents to facilitate conversation and hopefully reach a visitation agreement.
In court, a judge will make the final decision and sign (or deny) the order.
Tips for grandparents requesting visitation
In order to meet your goals in court, you'll need to demonstrate why granting visitation is in the grandchild's best interests.
- Document everything: Keep track of all time you spend with your grandchild. Keep a log of phone calls and photos. Save copies of court orders and forms.
- Stay realistic: It's best to workout visitation issues with your grandchild's parents outside the courtroom. Keep in mind, the courts may not grant your visitation request as-is – especially if the parent's do not agree.
- Hire a qualified attorney: It's usually unwise to enter a courtroom without proper legal representation. An attorney can help make sure all your documents are in order and you've filled out paperwork correctly.
Grandparents' rights attorney in Orange County, CA
Requesting visitation isn't something you'll want to begin on your own. It's important to discuss your situation and options with a qualified attorney.
Contact Yanez & Associates divorce & family law attorneys today at 714-971-8000. We're available anytime and we offer free consultations so you can learn about your case with no risk or obligation.