A divorce typically affects all of the members of the family concerned. When the separating couple has children, even the grandparents may experience a certain loss. If children are involved, the divorce proceeding likely will include either an agreed-upon parenting arrangement or a court-ordered one. Unfortunately, in many cases, the court must get involved to allocate child custody and visitation, taking into account the best interests of the child or children. Courts have the statutory authority to grant grandparents visitation rights under certain circumstances. If you are considering divorce and want to be sure that your rights will be protected, you are encouraged to contact an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible.
In California, there are three separate laws that expressly address grandparent visitation: Family Code Sections 3102, 3103, and 3104. In a recent divorce case, the court was asked to interpret and apply Section 3104 (a), which provides in part that a grandparent of a minor child may petition a court for reasonable visitation rights. In order to grant the petition, the court must: 1) find that there is a preexisting relationship between the grandparent and grandchild that has created a bond rendering visitation in the best interests of the child; and 2) balance the interest of the child in having visitation with the grandparent against the right of the parents to exercise their parental authority.