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Grandparents and Visitation Rights in San Diego Superior Court in 2013

In a divorce proceeding matters like child custody, child support, and child visitation are established and decreed by a divorce court order. However, an issue rarely addressed in the course of the divorce process is the question of visitation rights for the grandparents of the child in San Diego Superior Court. So, often at the end, when divorce orders are passed, many grandparents are left with no court ordered contact with their grandchild/grandchildren if they are allowed contact at all. In such circumstances, if they wish, they are forced to seek an order for their rights in a family court.

How Visitation Rights for Grandparents Evolved

Even though lawmakers and divorce laws in San Diego have dragged their feet on recognizing and protecting visitation rights for a child’s grandparents, they have the right to seek custody or child visitation by petitioning the divorce court in an action called a “joinder”.

Every state has enacted its own style of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act which requires that courts holding jurisdiction in the state where the child resides recognize legal child custody orders passed by courts in other states and rigorously enforce them. In 2013 in the San Diego Superior Court, it is very difficult for a grandparent to obtain an order for visitation. Two notable exceptions are when the child of the grandparent is deceased or deployed for a significant period of time. There is a recent family law code in San Diego which allows for a grandparent who has had a relationship with their grandchild to petition the Court for visitation while the parent is deployed without a joinder. This is a very complicated area of the law.

Monumental Court Ruling

In Troxel vs Granville in 2000, the Supreme Court ruled that the fundamental rights of parents to raise their children were violated by a Wisconsin visitation statute. Similar conclusions relating to visitation rights of grandparents have been arrived at by courts in other states. Proposals have been urged by several other states to modify their laws.

Grandparents desirous of seeking child visitation orders can be assisted and provided suitable advice by divorce and family law attorneys. Grandparents must meet certain conditions to qualify for child custody or visitation if they are to secure a court award as above. These specific conditions vary from one state to the next. A local divorce or family court attorney is best placed to advise grandparents on the laws prevailing in that state where they are seeking orders.

The Best Interest of the Child

The pervasive maxim which will govern the decision by courts in all states with be respect for the best interest of the child. All courts are duty-bound to consider this ideal before making orders for child custody and visitation rights. Some states even outline in a statute the relevant guidelines, requirements, and conditions relating to the best interest of the child while in other states, Judges could subjectively interpret state laws on the basis of the individual case. What happens if the child is competent enough to have their own opinion and they have good reason to not want to visit with one set of grandparents? This situation needs to be strongly considered however the law in San Diego severely restricts and limits grand parent rights except to very limited factual patterns.

An Experienced Law Firm

Doppelt and Forney, APLC is a family law firm in San Diego which has been practicing all facets of family law for many years.. Child custody and visitation rights and child support are some of their areas of practice. If grandparents have visitation issues that they wish to discuss, they could avail of a free 30-minute virtual consultation during which they would be told of their rights and how to set about obtaining them.

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