Grandparents and Children Post-Divorce: Do You Need to Maintain a Relationship?

Divorcing with children adds a layer of complexity to your split. Not only do you need to consider what’s equitable to you and your spouse, but you must also consider what’s best for your children. This includes deciding how and whether to help them maintain their relationships with grandparents and other family members. 

The right of extended family to spend time with children is significantly less well-defined than those of parents. If you have concerns about grandparents’ rights to spend time with your kids, here’s what you need to know. 

Grandparents’ Rights During Divorce

In California, there are a few specific regulations regarding grandparents’ rights. Generally, parents can decide whether a child gets to spend time with their grandparents, including when they are separated. For example, one parent may allow or prevent either set of grandparents from visiting the child while the kid is with them. Furthermore, a child’s guardian can request that a judge limit grandparents’ rights to see their grandchild if there is a safety risk. 

However, a grandparent can also request visitation in court if their grandchild’s parents aren’t married or are living apart permanently. The judge may choose to grant this request if:

  • There’s a significant existing bond between the grandchild and grandparent, so it is in the child’s best interest to permit visitation.
  • The parent is attempting or planning to prevent the grandparent from spending time with the child.
  • The child’s best interests outweigh the parent’s right to deny the grandparent visitation. 

If the judge awards grandparent visitation, this can significantly impact the child custody order awarded during your divorce. 

How to Account for Grandparents in a Divorce

If you want to prevent your divorce from becoming even more complicated, it may be best to prepare ways for your children to spend time with their grandmother or grandfather before your split is finalized. This can reduce or prevent the chance that a grandparent files for visitation and help you keep your divorce moving forward. 

  • Remember your kids’ best interests. Custody disputes are supposed to be resolved according to the child’s best interests and no one else’s. Keeping that in mind can help you avoid making decisions that could be grounds for the court to award visitation to a grandparent.
  • Talk about your kids with your parents and in-laws. Next, talk to all grandparents about the kids and your plans for the future. When they feel included in your plans, they are less likely to file for visitation in the first place. 
  • Schedule a time when your kids can be with their grandparents. Finally, make plans for your kids to talk or spend time with a grandparent. This can be a visit a few times a year, video calls every week, or anything in between. This allows them to maintain the relationship without a court order.

Helping Protect Families During Conflict

While extended family members do not have the same rights as parents toward their grandchildren, they still want to participate in their lives. If you have had a grandparent visitation claim filed against you, it can significantly complicate your divorce. At Viola Law, APC, we are dedicated to helping families like yours minimize these conflicts and keep divorces on track. Schedule your consultation today to learn more about how we can assist you with divorce and child custody. 

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