Do Grandparents Have Child Visitation Rights During a Divorce?

Thursday, June 23, 2016 | 7:34 pm

According to the former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani; “What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life, and, most importantly, cookies.”

There’s no doubt that the strength of grandparents’ bond with their grandchildren can make all the difference in the world to the development of children. Grandparents can play a significant role within the family structure, especially when their adult children rely on them for childcare. Unfortunately, during a divorce, grandparents, much like children of a divorce, get caught up in the middle of a custody battle. Sometimes grandparents find themselves having to beg to see their grandchildren and often face legal hurdles to obtain visitation rights.

According to Don Schweitzer, Pasadena Certified Family Lawyer, if both parents agree that it is not in the best interest of the child for the grandparents to visit, California Family Law supports that presumption. “In other words, during a divorce, the grandparents’ wishes to continue to be involved with their grandchildren are, overshadowed by the parents’ wish,” Schweitzer continued. “However, there is hope for highly involved grandparents who petition the family court for visitation rights. If they are able to provide proof of their significant role in the child’s life, their appeal could prevail.”

Don shared with us an example of a recent family law case where the grandparents were extremely involved in their granddaughter’s life. The grandparents were present during her birth, played an active role dropping off and picking up their granddaughter to/from preschool and watching her after school while the father and mother were at work. While the mother and father were still married and living together, the grandparents spent about twenty-five days per month looking after their granddaughter.

When the mother and father separated, the grandparents spent even more time with their granddaughter, especially after the father and child moved into their home.

Eventually the grandparents’ relationship soured with their son. When the father moved out of their home the grandparents were cut off from seeing their granddaughter entirely. In an effort to obtain visitation rights, the grandparents filed a petition. At the hearing and after the court took into consideration evidence of the strong bond between the grandparents and their granddaughter, the grandparents were granted overnight visits with her every week, a full weekend once a month, a full week during the summer, and overnight visits around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“Based on this ruling we can see that grandparents who have strong bonds with their grandchildren should not throw in the towel when one or both of the parents attempt to cut them off from seeing their grandchildren,” says Schweitzer. “After all, as another quote goes, ‘The reason grandchildren and grandparents get along so well is that they have a common enemy.’”(Sam Levinson)

The Law Offices of Donald P. Schweitzer is located at 201 South Lake Ave. For more information, call (626) 683-8113 or visit


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