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There are several life events that can cause families to break apart. The divorce of parents can create rifts between former in-laws, and the stress of such events can filter down to the relationships that exist between grandparents and their grandchildren. The death of an adult can cause his or her surviving parents to feel alienated from the grandchildren their deceased child’s spouse will raise alone.

Death and divorce clearly impact the nuclear families in which they occur, but they also create strain on the extended relationships that are attached to those immediate unions. Grandparents often bear the burden of losing contact with grandchildren and other loved ones when events pull their children away from their partners. In California, there are a set of circumstances under which a grandparent may secure visitation with his grandchildren when life otherwise prevents them from being together.

While custody will generally not be awarded to a grandparent, a grandparent may have rights to visitation time with his grandkids if he and the children had a strong relationship before the death or divorce that caused their loss of contact. Courts often look to preserve grandparent-grandchild relationships when doing so is in the best interests of the children. The right of a grandparent to have visitation time with his grandkids must also be weighed against the parenting time and custody situation, if applicable, that the children’s parents have established for their kids.

One general bar to grandparents’ rights to visitation is the continued marriage of the children’s parents. Courts may make exceptions to this rule, however, if the interests of the children are well-served by permitting them time with their grandparents. Further inquiry may be made by those who want to learn more about grandparent visitation rights in California, as this blog post is intended for informational purposes only.