In California, in some circumstances, grandparents have the right to ask the Court for reasonable visitation with their grandchild. The Court must, however, find that there was a close, pre-existing relationship between grandparent and grandchild and that visitation would be in the best interest of the grandchild. The Court must also carefully balance the best interest of the child, the biological parent’s legal rights to their child and the benefit to the child of granting grandparent visitation and other rights.
In order to request visitation with your grandchild, a FL-300 Request for Order form will be filed with the Court. One of the documents you file with the Court will be your Declaration under penalty of perjury, setting forth the reasons you believe you should be granted grandparent rights. Because of the delicate balance between the competing interests (the child, the biological parents and you), it is strongly suggested that you hire an experienced attorney to help you fully present your case to the Court. Unfortunately, you are likely only going to get one change to convince the Judge and poorly drafted documents can sink you case before it ever gets going.
Usually, if the grandchild’s parents are married, the grandparents cannot file for visitation rights. There are exceptions, such as if the parents are living separately, a parent’s location is unknown and has been for a month, if a parent joins the case at the grandparent’s request, if the child does not live with his parents, or if the grandchild has been adopted by a stepparent.
However, once a grandparent has visitation through the courts and after a change, none of these exceptions apply. In that case, either biological parent can ask the court to end the grandparent’s visitation and the court must end the grandparent’s visitation rights at that time.