You and your former mother-in-law have never gotten along. She calls you over-protective because you insist that your toddler buckle up in his car seat rather than ride on her lap. She sneaks him cookies when he is allergic to eggs. She gives him toys with small pieces that are completely unsafe.  

When you were married, you and your spouse were able to decide how much time your children could spend with their grandparents. You limited visits and watched him carefully when your mother-in-law was around. Now that you are getting divorced, that may change.

California allows grandparents to seek court-ordered visitation with grandchildren under three conditions:

  • A parent has died and the grandparent is the father or mother of the deceased parent.
  • The parents are getting divorced.
  • The parents are not married (were never married or already divorced).

When parents get divorced, a grandparent may either join the non-custodial parent’s request for visitation rights or file a separate action on his or her own behalf. California will generally grant a grandparent’s petition for visitation, as long as the request is in the child’s best interest.  It is up to the parents to show that a visit could cause harm to the child.

If both parents oppose grandparent visitation, the court will assume that the visit is not in the child’s best interest and will usually side with the parents. If only one parent opposes the request, the wishes of the parent with sole legal and sole physical custody will be given more weight. 

Are you concerned about your in-laws’ access to the children? A San Francisco child custody attorney can help make sure your child’s safety is protected. To learn more, contact The Law Offices of Paul H. Nathan at 415-341-1144.

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