Whether you call them Grandmother and Grandfather or MeeMaw and PawPaw, grandparents often have a significant influence on younger generations. But when parents split up, visits with Grandma and Grandpa may come to an end. If you plan to file for divorce or have already filed, it’s is crucial to learn how to handle grandparent visitation rights and your divorce.
Your Divorce’s Parenting Plan
Before finalizing a divorce, a couple with children must prepare a written agreement called a parenting plan or a “time-share plan.” The plan sets out decisions that the parents made about:
- Which parent will make certain decisions about the children,
- Where the children will live, and
- How much time the children will spend with each parent.
While a visitation schedule states when kids will visit their non-custodial parent, it rarely, if ever, includes Gramps and Granny.
But this does not mean they will never get to see their grandchildren again.
Grandparent Visitation Rights
California law allows grandparents to request time to visit with grandchildren by filing a petition with the family court. Judges generally look at the following factors when ruling on grandparent visitation:
Whether a pre-existing relationship created a bond between grandparent and child that should be continued.
How to balance the child’s need to have visitation with the grandparents with the parent’s rights to make decisions for the child.
If grandparents ask the court for visitation, the parents will have the opportunity to respond. As with many divorce issues, it is usually best for the couple to reach an agreement to present to the court. When this is an impossibility, mediation might help. Otherwise, the judge will rule based on what he or she believes to be in the best interests of the child.
Sometimes both parents agree that the grandparents should not be given visitation rights. In these cases, judges tend to deny the request for visitation.
After Visitation Is Allowed
Parents and grandparents both have to abide by the court’s orders. In addition, judges may order either the parent or the grandparent to pay the following support costs:
- Transportation for the grandchild;
- Basic expenses for necessities like medical care and daycare.
Visitation of any kind may be restricted if the court feels the children are in danger because of a parent or grandparent’s actions. Talk to your attorney immediately if you think your child will be harmed by visiting with his or her grandparents.
Do Grandparent Visitation Rights Factor into Your Divorce?
Hammering out a parenting agreement can be challenging enough. Considering how to include time with grandparents can complicate the matter even further.
The attorneys at The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are well-versed in child custody and visitation issues. Judy Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. Please call our offices at 415-293-8314 to set up an appointment with one of our attorneys. We assist clients along the Northern to the Southern California Coast.