Sometimes it’s not just the parents involved in child custody and visitation disputes after a divorce. California’s Fifth District Court of Appeals recently considered a grandparent’s request for a court order giving her the right to visit with her grandchildren. As the court explained, state law generally presumes that the decision should be left to the parent with custody of the kids.
Mother and Father were married for nearly seven years before they separated in 2014 and later divorced. They had two children – ages four and six at the time of the split – and Mother also had a 14-year-old daughter from a previous marriage. The couple separated shortly before Husband was charged with molesting the oldest daughter, a crime for which he was convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison. A trial judge gave Wife sole custody of the children and didn’t allow Husband visitation.
About a month after the divorce was finalized, Father’s mother (Grandmother) asked the court to grant she and her husband (Grandfather) visitation time with the kids. She said Wife hadn’t allowed them to see the children after she found out about the molestation. The court – after a hearing – denied the request to order visitation, instead leaving it up to Mother to decide whether Grandparents would see the kids. The court explained that there’s a presumption against court-ordered grandparent visitation in cases in which the parent with sole custody opposes it. In this case, Wife said she didn’t want Grandparents around the children because they had continued to support Father after he was charged with the crime.