Grandparents’ Rights in California: What you need to know

grandparents rightsIn the recent California Court of Appeal ruling  Jeffrey D. Stuard, et al. v. Matthew Stuard the current schema to determine grandparents’ rights in California was reaffirmed. The crux of the case is that father’s parents have been given visitation. The court awarded them a 20% time share of their granddaughter, Riley. Father appealed the ruling on Constitutional grounds. He said that, 1. it discriminated against married and unmarried but cohabiting parents, 2. This order would have never happened if he just stayed married to Riley’s mother, Rebekah, and 3. his rights were violated when he was deprived the right to parent his child without finding him and Rebekah unfit.

Guess what the court said about these grandparents’ rights?

They got to keep their timeshare. After a lengthy and interesting discussion, they affirmed this part of the ruling. So are you wondering what they affirmed? Me too. So, here it is ~ the basic state of grandparents’ rights in California.

California Family Code Section 3100 – 3104 governs grandparents’ rights in California, the applicable statute is 3104. To paraphrase, it says that a grandparent can ask for visitation. If the court wants to give them visitation, they have to:

  1. Find that there is a pre-existing bond between the grandparents and children and that it is in the child’s best interest to continue that relationship.
  2. Balance this benefit to the child against the wishes of the parent and their right to make decisions about their kid.

In most cases, the grandparents cannot file for custody if the parents are still married. There are named exceptions in the code. They include that the parents aren’t living together, the whereabouts of the parent is unknown for a month or more, either mom or dad joins in with the grandparent’s request, the child doesn’t live with parents, or there was a stepparent adoption.

Plus, there is a rebuttable presumption that the best interest of the child is to be with the parent.

Well, that is a lot. The best advice is to mediate this. If you are involved in a custody dispute, this is where you can craft a visitation schedule that works for you and honors what is best for your child.

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