Written by Rich Gordon, B.A., M.A., J.D.—A Fairway Mediation Center
Has your child’s divorce compromised your relationship with their children? No matter the state of residency, grandparents are not automatically granted legal rights allowing them to visit their grandchildren. In California, in only three situations will the court allow grandparents to file a motion for visitation: if the parents are divorced and/or do not live together anymore; if one of the parents is incarcerated or deceased; or if a parent’s whereabouts are unknown.
If one of these situations applies to you, and one or both parents stops you from seeing your grandchildren, you can request court-ordered visitation through Family Court Services. Because previous court cases (including the US Supreme Court) have often ruled in favor of the parent refusing visitation, the court will follow this process:
The judge will interview the grandparents to find out if there is a pre-existing relationship between grandparents and grandchildren and how strong this bond is. The court will also ask the grandparents to prove that it is in the “best interest of the children” to continue this grandparent-grandchild relationship.The judge will also ask the parent(s) for their opinion, to understand why they oppose visitation. In the case that both parents agree against grandparent visitation, the judge will rule in the parents’ favor. Court-ordered grandparent visitation rights may not be the best way to resolve this family matter, and in fact could increase the existing friction between grandparents and parents. While Family Court Services offer mediation services, court mediators have limited time to listen to both sides.
However, choosing to work with an independent mediator encourages open communication among all family members, while keeping focus on the best interests of the children and keeping the expectations of all parties reasonable.
To learn more about the mediation process, complete our request for a free online evaluation, and to receive a free 30-minute phone consultation, visit us at
www.afairway.com, or call 760-227-5090