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Can Grandparents Seek Custody in California?

Are you a grandparent who wants to know if you can go to court to ask for custody of your grandchild? Or, do you want to ask for visitation rights? If so, it’s important for you to know that grandparents’ visitation and custody rights are handled differently in each state.

In California, grandparents can ask for visitation and custody rights under certain circumstances. In this article, we’ll explain under what circumstances you can ask the family court for custody or visitation of your grandchild.

Seeking Visitation Rights of a Grandchild

For a grandparent to ask the court for reasonable visitation of their grandchild, the court has to find that the grandparent had a pre-existing relationship with their grandchild and that for some reason, that bond is not being endangered. The court must also determine that it is in the grandchild’s best interests to have visitation with their grandparent(s).

When a grandchild’s parents are married, usually the grandparent cannot ask for visitation rights, but there are some exceptions, such as:

  • The parents don’t live together
  • One of the parents is missing
  • One of the parents decides to join the grandparent’s petition to the court for visitation
  • The child does not live with their mother or father
  • A stepparent adopted the grandchild

Seeking Custody (Guardianship) of a Grandchild

Perhaps it’s not visitation you’re seeking of your grandchild, but custody. You may want to seek custody because your grandchild is being neglected or abused because the parents are mentally ill, or because they can’t afford the child, or because the parents are incarcerated, or because they have a drug problem, or because Child Protective Services (CPS) has gotten involved and removed the child from their parent’s home.

In California, when someone other than the parents is seeking custody of a child, it’s called “probate guardianship of the person.” When a grandparent becomes a grandchild’s guardian, he or she receives a court order to make decisions on behalf of their grandchild, such as educational and medical decisions, and so on.

A guardianship does not terminate parental rights; parents can still ask to have reasonable contact with their son or daughter. And, a guardianship can be ended if the parents regain the ability to care for their child.

To explore your options as a grandparent, contact Cage & Miles today.