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Frequently Asked Questions about Grandparents’ Visitation Rights

In California, grandparents may be entitled to visitation of their grandchildren, and they may be able to get a court order to do so.  First and foremost, the grandparent-grandchild visitation must be in the best interests of the child.  If not, the court will not grant visitations.

Here are some frequently asked questions about grandparents’ rights to visitation of their grandchildren.

Do all grandparents have visitation rights to their grandchildren?

No.  If the child’s parents are still married to each other, grandparents do not have visitation rights.  Whether the child visits with the grandparent, is up to those parents.

Are there any exceptions to the married-parents rule?

Yes, a few including:

  • The parents are living separately.
  • The grandchild has been adopted by a stepparent.
  • One of the parents joins the grandparent’s request for visitation.
  • A parent’s whereabouts is unknown (and has been for at least a month).
  • The child does not live with either of his or her parents.

I’ve never met my grandchild.  Can I still get grandparents’ visitation rights?

Probably not.  A court will not grant visitation rights to a grandparent unless an “engendered bond” already exists between the grandparent and the child.

What does “engendered bond” mean?

“Engendered bond” means that there is such a close relationship between grandparent and grandchild that visitation is in best interest of the grandchild.

What if I don’t have an engendered bond with my grandchild, can I still get grandparent visitations with my grandchildren?

No, there must be a pre-existing relationship to the level of an engendered bond (close relationship between grandparent and grandchild).

How do I get a court to grant me grandparent visitation rights?

If there is already a divorce or paternity case filed, you can ask to be joined in the case; or if not, you can petition the court yourself.  For more information on petitioning the court yourself, visit the court’s website at https://www.courts.ca.gov/17976.htm, visit your county’s family court facilitator, or hire a family law attorney to file for you.

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