The family courts in California may be dealing with more cases of grandparents seeking decisions about their interests in visiting grandchildren, but there are certain conditions that are necessary for grandparents to receive these rights. By the same token, parents might defend their rights to prohibit interaction between children and grandparents, but a court could rule in favor of a grandparent in specific scenarios. This area of law can vary greatly from one state to the next, but all states have recognized grandparent rights in some form.
The most common situations that result in grandparents being able to pursue visitation rights in the courts involve the death of one of a child's parents or the child's adoption or foster care placement. In cases of divorce, a grandparent might be able to pursue visitation rights based on a parent denying it. In some cases, these rights might be based on a child having resided with a grandparent at some point. The most important issue in the eyes of family court judges is whether visitation rights for a grandparent would be in the best interests of the child.
Custody options for grandparents can be even more limited than visitation. Relationship dynamics between parents, grandparents, and children play a key role in deciding whether adoption is appropriate. A living parent is the preferred custodian of a child in most cases, and seeking custody against the wishes of one of a child's parents can be a difficult challenge.
Legal input is important for anyone considering custody or visitation litigation. In some cases, negotiation might be sufficient, especially if there is great potential for an interested party to win the desired rights. In other cases, a court's involvement might be necessary.