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Recent California ruling could impact custody rights of parents

On Behalf of | Jul 28, 2017 | Child Custody |

Whether you are going through a divorce or are living your life post-divorce, the divorce process has likely altered your life greatly. This is especially true if you have children. Dissolution means addressing difficult issues, such as child custody. While some divorcing parents in California are able to reach fair and equal terms when it comes to deciding a fair parenting time schedule with their ex, this does not mean that they are free from visitation issues regarding their children. The divorce process is not only taxing on parents but can also take a toll on grandparents as well. Because of that, some grandparents will take steps to assert their grandparents’ rights if they have limited access to their grandchildren during or after their child’s divorce.

When grandparents take legal action to obtain visitation rights, they are likely to hear that the court’s decision will be based on the best interests of the child or children. This is a common phase used by judges when they are assessing the factors involved. And based on these factors, the court will determine what is ultimately best for the child.

With regards to grandparents, the court will look at the relationship between the grandparents and grandchildren prior to the filing of the action. In some cases, this means looking at the pre-divorce relationship because it is the act of the child’s parents divorcing that caused a grandparent to lose access to their grandchildren. Whether it is due to spite or the result of a hostile and messy divorce, some parents take it out on their ex’s parents by limiting their ability to see their grandchildren.

However, if the courts determine that preserving the relationship between a grandchild and grandparent is in the child’s best interests, an order will be granted. While grandparents’ rights are different from paternal rights, the underlying similarity if that they are all adults that have the ability to provide a healthy, safe and positive environment for the child. And if the court determines this to be the case, they often have very little evidence not to approve a visitation order.

Divorce can be challenging on children and parents; however, these difficulties can extend to grandparents as well. Ensuring the needs of a child are met goes beyond developing a suitable custody arrangement for them. It means preserving important relationships, such as those with a grandparent. Thus, if grandparents feel like their rights are not being upheld, they should understand that they do have legal recourses and they could take steps to protect their time and visitation with a grandchild.

Source:, “Grandparent Visitation and the ‘Best Interests of the Child’,” Susan Adcox, Oct. 5, 2016


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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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