Do Grand Parents have a right to Visitation?

Do Grandparents Have A Right to Visitation?

Frequently, a dispute may arise between a child’s parents and grandparents, to the point where a parent may block the grandparent from seeing the child. What does the law say about this issue?

In California, courts have the ability to order visitation for a nonparent, such as a stepparent, grandparent, and former guardian. Parents have constitutional due process rights to make decisions about who, how a nd when their children should see family members and other individuals. However, this right is not absolute. At the very least, courts must give “special weight” to parent’s decisions regarding grandparent visitation, and place the burden on the grandparent to show why the child has a strong interest in having such visitation.1

To petition for visitation, a grandparent must satisfy the two-prong test under Family Code section 3104(a), which states:

  • On petition to the court by a grandparent of a minor child, the court may grant reasonable visitation rights to the grandparent if the court does both the following:
  • (1) Finds that there is a preexisting relationship between the grandparent and the grandchild that has engendered a bond such that visitation is in the best interest of the child.
  • (2) Balances the interest of the child in having visitation with the grandparent against the right of the parents to exercise their parental authority.

Thus, under first prong of section 3104(a), the grandparent must show that there was a preexisting relationship and bond between the grandparent and grandchildsuch that granting visitation rights would serve the child’s best interests.

The grandparent could show, for example, that he or she lived with the child for a period of time, or cared for the child on a regular basis. Perhaps the grandparent nurtured the relationship and strengthened the bond through visits, text messages, phone calls, skyping, letters, care packages, and other forms of reaching out.

Under the second part of section 3104(a), the grandparent has the burden of showing that the child’s interest in grandparent visitation outweighs the parents’ right to exclude the grandparent.

Here, the court may look into the reasons why a parent might want to block grandparent visitation. Perhaps the grandparent commits illegal activities around the children, has a tendency toward domestic abuse, or has somehow harmed the child. Or maybe the parent just has a personal grudge against the grandparent. The court would also weigh the effect of allowing or denying visitation on the child.

One important factor is whether the parent ever offered the grandparent an opportunity to visit. If the parent did not, the court may view that as unreasonableness by the parent, cutting against the parent’s case.

Ultimately, the right to grandparent visitation is not absolute, but where a genuine, beneficial bond exists between grandparent and grandchild with minimal detriment to the child, grandparent visitation will likely be granted. Each case is different, and the court will exercise discretion in awarding visitation based on whether each sides’ arguments for and against visitation serve the child’s best interests.

For more information on this topic, please contact Alexander Quan at 415-457-4367 or via email at alex@theshermanlawoffice.com.

Disclaimer: Law Office of Christina Sherman publishes articles about family law cases on its website for informational purposes only. The information contained herein may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from Law Office of Christina Sherman or the individual author. This general information is not a substitute for legal advice on any subject matter. For advice pertaining to your specific case, please contact our office to schedule a consultation. No reader of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this article without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction. Using this information or sending electronic mail to Law Office of Christina Sherman or its attorneys does not create an attorney-client relationship. Any statements pertaining to past results do not guarantee future results.


1 See Troxel v. Granville (2000) 530 U.S. 57.

By |2018-03-27T16:24:48-07:00April 1st, 2017|Child Custody & Visitation|

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