In an earlier post, we discussed the rights that grandparents have to visitation with their grandchildren under the laws of the state of California. Briefly: grandparents do have the right under the California Family Code to seek visitation with a grandchild with whom they have “engendered a bond.” While the parents’ wishes will be respected, California courts have the right to order visitation between grandparents and grandchildren when it would be in the best interests of the child to do so. Below are some additional details to consider when you have decided you wish to seek an order granting visitation with your grandchild.
While visitation can be awarded in narrow circumstances when the parents are still married, typically the court will only order visitation when the parents have divorced or split up. In fact, an ideal time to make a petition for visitation is when the divorce is pending before the family court. You will need to file a petition for joinder after the divorce has been filed, which, if approved, will make you a party to the divorce case. You’ll then have the opportunity to file a petition for visitation, and to receive a hearing before the judge on that matter. The judge can’t rule on the divorce until he or she has ruled on your petition for visitation. You can also file a petition after the divorce is final, but doing so while the divorce is pending can make the process simpler.
Should a court allow a grandparent visitation with a grandchild, the court has discretion to order that the grandparent pay to the parent, or vice versa, some amount of child support to cover the costs of visitation. This can include things like transportation costs, medical expenses, costs of day care, and other basic expenses. Also, the court may reduce the amount of visitation to which each parent is entitled by the amount of visitation time that the grandparent is granted, by subtracting the percent of time that the child is with the grandparent from each parent’s share of custody, proportionately.
If you are a California grandparent seeking visitation time with your grandchild, contact experienced San Diego family law and child custody attorney Andy Cook for a consultation on your case, at 619-515-9900.