May a Non-Parent Receive Visitation Rights From the Court?
Generally no. The court makes a presumption that a fit parent acts in a child’s best interest and will make the best decision on who should spend time with a child. Still, the court places as its top priority the health, welfare, and safety of a child. If the court sees it in the child’s best interest to award visitation or even custody to a non-parent, it may do so; however, generally if the parent is a fit parent the court will not do so. California requires two prerequisite findings before granting visitation rights to a grandparent. First, there must be a preexisting relationship and bond between the grandparent and the grandchild and second, the requested visitation must be in the best interest of the child. If the prerequisites are found, the court must also balance the interest of the child in having visitation with the grandparent against the right of the parents to exercise their parental authority. California does not allow the grandparent to petition if the family is still intact and the parents simply refuse to allow visitation. Exceptions to this rule, however, can be found when the child's parents are married but are currently living separate and apart on a permanent basis. Contact a Sagaria Law Family Law attorney to learn more.