Learn How to Petition for Grandparent Visitation Rights in California
How to Petition for Grandparent Visitation Rights in Orange County California: A grandparent is one of the few people who has a legal right to visitation of a child. However, due to the complex nature of grandparents' rights and parental rights, it is usually best to work out these things within the family rather than through the courts.
The process of obtaining visitation rights is different for grandparents than for parents. In order to ask the court for visitation with a grandchild, the following must be true.
• The Court must find that the grandparent and grandchild have an existing relationship and that the relationship is in the best interest of the grandchild;
• The Court must find a balance between the best interest of the child in awarding the visitation and the rights of the parents to make decisions regarding the child’s life, health, and wellbeing.
If you are a grandparent and you wish to have visitation rights with your grandchild, the following will give you a general overview of whether you can expect to legally obtain visitation rights, and how the court process for obtaining grandparent visitation rights works.
As a Grandparent, Can I Request Visitation Rights with my Grandchild?
• If the parents are legally separated, or if they are living separately,
• If one or both parents are missing and the whereabouts are unknown and have been for at least one month,
• If the child does not live with either parent,
• If the child has been adopted by a stepparent,
• If a parent has died,
• If one of the child’s parents wants the grandparent to have visitation rights.
In most cases, if the parents are married and none of the above criteria have been met, granting rights to the grandparents violates their parental rights or is not found to be in the best interest of the child.
Balancing the Rights of the Parents with the Best Interests of the Child
If the parents are not married, and either both parents or the parent who has sole custody objects to visitation with the grandparents, the Court has the burden of determining whether the visitation is in the best interest of the child, based on the evidence presented by the grandparent. It is possible for a grandparent to have visitation rights without the consent of the parents, but it may create strain on the family and is probably best worked out outside of the court.
How to Petition the Court for Grandparent Visitation Rights in California
Is there a family law case open that allows for a visitation order to be created? If so, you may file through that case. If not, you will have to start your own visitation case.
You’ll need to submit a Request for Order form, which requests that the Court creates a child visitation order. Discuss this form with your attorney prior to filing it, and make sure you describe the type of visitation you’d like to have with your grandchild. It is also your responsibility to explain to the court why it is in your grandchild’s best interest to have visitation with you.
Make sure an attorney reviews your forms prior to submitting them. You will need to file three copies of the forms with the court clerk: one for you, one for the child’s parent, and one for the Court. You’ll also probably have to pay a fee to file the forms.
The papers will have to be served on the child’s parents by a person who is at least 18 years old, and you will need to file a proof of service with the Court.
Once both parties have the date of mediation and/or the hearing, it is time to prepare with your attorney. If mediation is required, you and the child’s parents will try to work out a visitation agreement with the help of a mediator. If mediation fails, the case will move to court, where the judge will make a decision. If the judge decides that visitation is in the best interest of the child, he or she will sign a visitation order.
Depending on the court in which you file, you may be done at this point, or you may need to prepare and file the order with the Court before it will go into effect.
A parent can request that the Court end grandparent visitation rights at any time. The Court will determine whether the visitation order is in the best interest of the child prior to ending the order.
Grandparent Visitation Order in Orange County, California