Third-Party Visitation Cases
Some of the most emotionally fraught family law disputes arise when individuals (stepparents, grandparents or other adults who play a central role in a child’s life) believe it is in a child’s best interests to have visitation, and the legal parents object. These cases can sometimes involve third parties making accusations regarding parental fitness and the parents fighting these accusations.
If you are on either side of such a dispute, it is essential that you speak with an experienced family law attorney regarding your rights and potential legal options. At Chase, Berenstein and Murray, Counselors at Law, we counsel parents, grandparents and other parties. With more than 30 years of practice in the area of family law, we work to help our clients achieve favorable results. We’re here to make what can be a difficult, draining legal process more manageable.
When Third Parties May Be Entitled To Visitation Rights
No matter which side of the dispute you are on, it is important to understand an important fact of parental rights in California: Parents have a constitutional right to raise their children. The law presumes that fit parents can make decisions that are in a child’s best interests. While almost always emotionally charged, some third-party claims are unlikely to succeed in court. For example, grandparents who are angry because they have been cut off from their grandchildren do not automatically have a legal claim for visitation rights.
In order to make a compelling claim for visitation, third parties must establish the following:
- There is a preexisting relationship between the child and the grandparent or other third party that has engendered a bond such that visitation would be in a child’s best interest.
- In balancing the interests of the child in having visitation against the interests of the exercise of parental authority, visitation is appropriate.
- There is a legal presumption against grandparent/third party visitation if both parents agree it should be denied.
This can be a tremendous hurdle to overcome for third parties. Regardless of your situation, we can advise you regarding your claim and work to achieve an outcome that is fair for you, the parents, and the children involved.