Can Grandparents Be Awarded Custody of Grandchildren In California?

For some California children, grandparents provide love, support, stability, mentoring, guidance, and fun that their parents cannot, either through visitation or by sharing the same home.

Often, these grandparents are compelled to step in to ensure their grandchildren remain in a safe and supportive environment when their parents cannot provide the physical and emotional support their children need.

At the Law Office of Joyce Holcomb, our San Bernardino family law attorney understands that there are unlimited reasons why parents may default on their custodial duties, and we are not here to judge those circumstances.

We are here to help ensure children who need their grandparents to grow into thriving young adults have the legal support their grandparents need to create positive solutions.

How Many Grandchildren Live With Their Grandparents in California?

Over 1.2 million kids ages 18 and under live with their grandparents or other family members in the State of California. Of that number, the majority, or over 826,000, live with grandparents who are the head of the household, which means their parents may not be consistently involved in their lives.

What Are Some of the Common Reasons Grandparents Seek Custody of Their Grandchildren?

Life can be very difficult for parents, children, and extended family members when things are less than ideal at home.

When parents are knowingly — or unknowingly, in some circumstances — placing their children in danger, grandparents may seek custody of the children to provide a stable and safe home.

Common reasons for California grandparents to seek custody of their grandkids may stem from one or both parents:

  • Death
  • Deemed unfit to retain custody
  • Domestic violence issues
  • Imprisonment
  • Mental illness
  • Military deployment
  • Neglect or abandonment
  • Substance abuse problems

In some cases, the child’s parents may consent to the grandparent’s custody, and in others, the child may have lived with their grandparents for more than a year, which makes their custody request just as valid.

Under California State Law, if a child is placed in foster care by county officials— no matter the county — the social worker and the court must give preference to certain relatives, which includes grandparents. That means, sometimes, children are placed with their grandparents by child welfare agencies.

No matter the reason grandparents are seeking custody of their grandchildren, our San Bernardino County Certified Family Law Specialist at the Law Office of Joyce Holcomb is here to help outline the legal path to achieving custodial success for the guardians who will provide the best home for the children.

What If Grandparents Are Seeking Visitation Rights Instead of Custody?

Under California law, grandparents can ask for visitation rights with their grandchild, under two conditions:

  • The grandparents have a pre-existing relationship and a bond with their grandchild(ren), solidifying that granting visitation would be in the child’s best interests
  • The courts maintain a balance between the child(ren)’s best interests and their parents’ rights to make decisions for them

However, if the child’s parents are still married to each other, the grandparents may not legally petition the court for visitation rights, unless an exception to those laws are met.

They include:

  • A stepparent adopted the grandchild
  • One of the parent’s petitions with the grandparent
  • One parent’s whereabouts are unknown and he or she has been missing for at least one month
  • The child currently lives with a foster family or another family member
  • The parents are living separately

Grandparents who seek custody or visitation rights with their grandchildren typically have the children’s best interests at the forefront of their cause, and we want to help make their vision a reality.

If you have questions about your grandparents’ rights, contact our San Bernardino certified grandparents rights attorney at the Law Office of Joyce Holcomb today by calling (909) 889-7111 to discuss your unique circumstances. We are available via phone, text, email, or video conference to talk about your rights remotely, so you can get the answers you need with delay. 

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