What are My Rights as a Grandparent If My Child Divorces?

It is no exaggeration to say that a divorce will affect every member of a family. What many people do not anticipate, however, is how it will impact the lives of grandparents and their relationship with their grandchildren. As the marriage comes to an end, grandparents can understandably start to fear that they will rarely, or never, see their grandkids again.

A Grandparent’s Rights in California

Although they are comparatively limited, grandparents’ rights do exist in California. These are similar to a parent’s own rights to visitation but generally concern schedules of infrequency, perhaps once a month or two months. If a grandparent wants to see their grandchild more often, they will need to show the family law court that their grandchild will benefit greatly from their visitations, or that they are being negatively impacted by the lack of visitation. This can be a tricky concept to prove but it also follows the same rules of visitation that parents use.

A grandparent may be able to gain visitation rights if the:

  • Custodial parent has a criminal history.
  • Custodial parent is ill or bedridden.
  • Grandchild frequently disobeys custodial parent.
  • Grandchild openly expresses the wish to visit the grandparent.

It should be noted that a grandparent only has the right to see their grandchildren if the court and both parents approve of the visitation. It is not something that is guaranteed in all situations.

Grandparent Custody Options

Grandparents in California can also become the primary custodians of their grandchildren in certain situations. For the most part, if at least one of the children’s parents is alive, grandparent custody will be denied. Instead, it is reserved for when both parents pass away, or one or both parents create a dangerous living environment for their child, such as in cases involving drug or physical abuse. As with a typical child custody case, a grandparent will need to go through the courts to gain grandparent custody rights.

If you are a grandparent and have more questions about your rights following your child’s divorce, call (951) 506-6654 to reach Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich. Our Murrieta family law attorneys provide compassionate legal counsel that always keeps our clients’ best interests in focus. Begin your case with a free consultation to learn more about your options.


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