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What are your rights as a grandparent?

One of the greatest gifts that your children can give you are grandchildren. Your love for them can often be equally as strong as that which they share with their parents. The same may often be said about the relationship you establish with them in San Francisco. Is it fair, then, that your rights to have access to your grandkids change when familial circumstances shift? 

According to California law, the answer to that question is no. You (as a grandparent) have the right to request visitation with your grandchildren if and when their parents divorce. To qualify, however, you must be able to show to the court that you have “engendered a bond” with them. Such a bond is assumed to be present if it is proven that severing your ties with your grandkids could cause them serious emotional harm and distress. When considering this, the court must also determine whether or not your continual presence in your grandchildren’s lives might serve to undermine their parents’ authority. 

What about those cases where your adult child and his or her spouse remain married, yet your access to your grandkids is restricted (for whatever reason)? Typically, grandparent visitation is right afforded only to those wanting such a right after a divorce. However, according to the website for The Judicial Branch of California, there are exceptions to this rule. These include: 

  • When the kids’ parents have separated (but not divorced)
  • When your grandchild lives with someone other than his or her parents
  • When your grandchildren have been adopted by a stepparent

You can also seek visitation when your grandchildren’s parents remain married, yet one of them endorses your petition. The same is true in cases where one of the parents has abandoned your grandkids for more than one month.