Bay Area residents who visited our website may remember a previous post about grandparents' visitation rights under California law. The post discussed the circumstances in which grandparents can file for visitation rights and the factors courts will consider when granting those rights in a child custody case. In this post, we talk about how a grandparent can file a court petition to uphold and exercise those rights.
To assert visitation rights, grandparents first need to know whether there are any existing orders regarding child custody, child support, spousal support or domestic violence restraining order involving the children and their parents. If there is an ongoing case, the grandparents may be able to ask for visitation rights through that case. If not, then the grandparents may need to file a fresh petition.
Many local courts have begun to develop forms and templates for use by petitioners in their courtrooms. A court clerk can help determine whether a particular court requires such a form or template. If it is not available, you can ask the court clerk for guidance or you can consider the help of a private attorney in filing your case.
If a family case already exists and you join it, you will need to fill out other court forms explaining why you want visitation rights and on what type of visitation schedule you would like to have your grandchildren. You must get your forms reviewed and then file three copies of your petition with the court clerk, who will set a date for hearing or mediation. After filing your petition, you will need to serve legal notice on your grandchildren's parents and file proof that notice was served. After all of these steps have been completed, the judge will hear the case and decide on your visitation rights.
Source: Courts.CA.gov, "Visitation Rights of Grandparents," Accessed on March 18, 2015