While there are some states in the country that don't have laws on the books that protect a grandparent's right to visitation with their grandchild, here in Riverside, their right to this is protected by California Family Code sections 3100-3015.
These laws permit a grandmother or grandfather to petition a family law judge for reasonable visitation with their granddaughter or grandson provided that they meet two conditions.
First, the grandparent must be able to show that a previous, bonding relationship exists between them and their grandchild. They must be able to show how continuing to enjoy visitation is in their granddaughter's or grandson's best interests.
A grandparent wishing to gain visitation privileges with their grandchild must be able to prove to a judge that they won't infringe on the parents' ability to make decisions about how to raise them.
As a general rule of thumb, grandparents are prohibited from requesting visitation privileges with their grandchild if their parents continue to be married to one another.
It is, however, possible for a grandparent to request visitation privileges if the parents' location is unknown or if the child doesn't reside with either one of them. They also may petition a judge to be allowed to visit their grandchild if their parents are married, yet no longer live together or if a stepparent has adopted the child.
When a judge is asked to make decisions regarding custody and visitation, their primary responsibility is to determine what's in the best interest of the child. This may mean that they ultimately place a child with someone other than their mom or dad or that generous visitation is awarded to a grandparent. An attorney can advise you of your right to custody or visitation with your grandchild in California.