Third Party Visitation Rights in California

Child custody and visitation, Co-parenting divorce, Divorce

Divorce is often a complex and stressful process. The process can be even more difficult when children are involved, and in such cases may bring even more family members into the process itself. For especially close families, family members may be concerned about how a divorce will impact their ability to spend time with a divorcing couple’s children. When these situations arise in California, it is sometimes possible for the court to grant visitation to someone other than the parents of a child if that person has a significant interest in the welfare of the child in question. However, while such a possibility exists, it is not always very easy to prove that you or another family member has an interest in the child’s welfare that trumps a custodial parent’s objection to granting visitation to that family member. There are different situations in which third party visitation might become a legal issue and, depending on the role of the third party in a child’s life, the court will approach such issues differently.

When Third-Party Visitation Might Be an Issue

While the question of third party visitation most often arises in divorce proceedings, especially considering the heightened emotions surrounding divorce, it is not necessarily limited only to divorce. There are three basic examples of when third party visitation might be an issue, which are:

  1.     When a child’s parents divorce;
  2.     When a child’s parents have never been married and are not in a relationship with one another; and
  3.     When one of a child’s parents dies.

Regardless of the situation at hand, the most important factor used in determining whether or not a third party should be granted visitation rights is whether or not such visitation is in the best interests of the child in question.

While the best interests of the child in question is certainly the primary factor in a court’s decision, it is not necessarily the only factor that a court must consider. In fact, the court must consider the weight of a parent’s right to deny visitation as guaranteed by principles found in the U.S. Constitution against whether or not the visitation is in the best interests of the child. In cases where the parent’s right to deny visitation outweighs the potential benefits of such visitation, that visitation cannot be ordered by the court.

Grandparents as Third Parties

When grandparents want to see their grandchildren and an otherwise fit parent that has custody objects to the grandparents having access to the children, a court may sometimes order visitation anyhow even though doing so goes against the parent’s wishes. While California case law has given additional weight to the parent’s objection, ordering visitation for grandparents that have maintained a significant relationship with the child in question does not appear to violate a parent’s presumptive right to choose what is best for their own child. In other words, the courts will take a parent’s objection into consideration, but a subsequent decision granting visitation to grandparents does not infringe on a parent’s right to choose what is best for their child in an excessive manner. In some cases, a grandparent may join in a divorce proceeding to request such visitation rights or they may request such rights by initiating their own separate action.

Other Family Members and Other Third Parties

While it is possible for other family members or other nonrelative third parties to be granted visitation rights, it is more difficult for such people to obtain visitation. In proceedings to determine third party access to a child, a court must basically begin the proceedings with the presumption that a parent’s objection to this visitation is in the child’s best interests. In other words, the person petitioning for third party visitation must overcome the parent’s objection to such visitation by proving that lack of visitation is in fact detrimental to the child’s best interests. It can often be difficult to do that.

Questions About Visitation

In California, child custody and visitation are complex legal matters. If you have questions or concerns about child custody and/or visitation because you are considering divorce, or if you are looking for information on potentially modifying existing arrangements, a family law attorney with experience handling such matters can help you understand more about your options. Contact JWB Family Law to schedule a consultation about your individual circumstances and questions.

Getting divorced in San Diego County? Call us today. 619.234.6123

Schedule a free 30 minute consultation with JWB Family Law

Categories

Connect With Us

            

Contact

San Diego Office
1620 Fifth Avenue, Suite 600
San Diego, CA 92101

Phone: 619.234.6123

Temecula Office
43537 Ridge Park Dr, Suite 100
Temecula, CA 92590
Phone: 951.297.3871

El Centro Office
300 S Imperial Ave, #10
El Centro, CA 92243
Phone: 760.460.4608

            

What Cat Ears Have to Do With Divorce

Quite a bit, as it turns out, and it has nothing to do with how you feel about felines. A study from researchers at the University of Washington shows divorce filings peak at two distinct times of the year – March and August....

FL-150 Forms – What you need to know

A frustrating but mandatory part of the divorce process in California is completing financial disclosure forms. One of these forms is the Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150), which requires both the Petitioner and Respondent to detail their earnings and spending. ...

Who gets inheritance money after a divorce?

Here are examples of community property and separate property:

Child custody schedule options and examples

When you are in a proceeding to decide how to share the custody and visitation of your children, many decisions must be made by you and the other parent on how you will co-parent your minor children. If you are unable to reach an agreement, the court will make a...

What’s worth fighting for in a divorce?

Here are examples of community property and separate property:

San Diego domestic violence resources

As in other counties in California, San Diego has resources you can contact to help you in a domestic violence case. A nd a dedicated family law and divorce attorney can help you legally enforce your separation from an abusive partner.

Military spouse benefits after a divorce

It is important to discuss all these topics with the military spouse divorce attorneys you retain to help guide you through the dissolution of your marriage. Military family law can be complex when it comes to divorce.

What not to post on social media during your divorce

Anything you post on social media during a divorce can, and likely will, be used against you in your dissolution proceedings. It is extremely important to avoid posting about getting divorced on all your social media profiles because anything that can be construed...

Helping a friend through divorce isn’t easy

A person going through a divorce is often dealing with the loss of time with their kids, a portion of their retirement, their house, and even relationships with their in-laws.

Child custody during the divorce process

There are two types of custody: legal and physical.