Certified Family Law Specialist, State Bar of California, and Board of Legal Specialization

Grandparents can be excellent role models for their grandchildren, providing mentoring, advice, and love. Unfortunately, families sometimes experience life events that can lead to parents preventing grandparents from having contact with their grandchildren.

Divorce, the death of a parent, or conflict between the parents and the grandparents are some of the most troubling ways grandparents can lose their relationship with their grandkids. If you are a grandparent who has been denied contact with your grandchildren, do not lose hope. An experienced family law attorney could help you protect your rights. A Thousand Oaks grandparents’ rights lawyer could work with you to petition for visitation or, in extreme cases, custody of your grandchildren.

What are a Grandparent’s Rights to Visitation?

Some states do not permit a judge to order grandparent visitation unless both parents have separated, divorced, or died. Fortunately, state law does provide a legal avenue for grandparents to pursue if the children’s parents prevent all contact between the grandparents and the grandchildren.

Under California Family Code §§ 3102-3104, a judge may grant a grandparent reasonable visitation with a grandchild, if there is an existing relationship between grandparent and grandchild that has created a bond between them. In these cases, visitation would be in the child’s best interests, and the judge would attempt to balance the grandparent’s right to visitation with the parents’ rights to make decisions about the child.

Generally, it is difficult for grandparents to obtain visitation while their grandchildren’s parents are married and do not consent. However, there are circumstances in which a local attorney could help grandparents seek visitation over the parents’ objection, including:

  • The parents are living separately
  • A parent’s whereabouts are unknown for at least one month
  • One parent joins the grandparent’s visitation petition
  • The children do not live with either of their parents
  • A stepparent has adopted the grandchildren

Because there are significant legal hurdles to overcome in a visitation case, it is advisable for grandparents facing this situation to consult a skilled attorney in Thousand Oaks before filing a court action.

Can a Grandparent Obtain Guardianship of a Grandchild?

In some cases, the grandparents may be raising the children because of a parent’s incarceration, substance abuse, or mental or physical disability. If so, the grandparents may want to seek guardianship of their grandchildren to protect their safety and well-being. Under state law, this is known as ‘probate guardianship.’ A judge may grant grandparents guardianship if they need a court order to make decisions for their grandchildren legally.

If grandparents obtain guardianship, the children’s parents still maintain their parental rights and may request reasonable visitation with their children. Further, the court will supervise the grandparents throughout the guardianship and end the court order if the parents become capable of caring for the children again. An experienced attorney could help grandparents fight for their rights throughout this process.

Is it Possible to Avoid Court in Thousand Oaks Custody and Visitation Cases?

Grandparent custody and visitation cases often arise out of family conflict and can be emotionally charged. A lengthy court battle between family members can increase the tension and further disrupt the family relationships. Mediation is one option grandparents could pursue to work toward an agreement with the parents regarding the grandchildren’s care and well-being.

Mediation can provide a way for the parents and grandparents to openly communicate about the grandchildren in a non-adversarial setting. It enables parties who care deeply about the children to focus on their best interests and potentially agree on an arrangement that allows them to benefit from loving relationships with their parents and grandparents. A compassionate grandparents’ rights attorney can explain the mediation process in Thousand Oaks and help grandparents determine if this is a viable option in their case.

Seek Legal Assistance From a Thousand Oaks Grandparents’ Rights Attorney

It can be devastating for both grandparents and grandchildren to have their relationship severed, particularly when the grandparents have been highly involved in the children’s lives.

Obtaining grandparent visitation or custody can be challenging, but a Thousand Oaks grandparents’ rights lawyer can help. The firm has years of family law experience and offers compassionate legal assistance for grandparents in the area. Call today to discuss your case.

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