Pakpour Banks LLP provides legal services to individuals involved in grandparent visitation cases.

Grandparents play a critical role in many children’s lives. That being said, parents have a constitutional right to raise their children as they see fit, which includes deciding that their children’s grandparents should not be part of their lives. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that “the interest of parents in the care, custody and control of their children is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized ….” See Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000).

California does recognize the rights of grandparents to petition the family court for rights to visit their grandchildren. However, such a right should not be exercised trivially.

When parents refuse the rights of grandparents to visit their children, the level of conflict and ill will between the parties is already high. Hauling everyone into court before a judge will oftentimes exacerbate such conflict.

Even if grandparents obtain the visitation orders they seek, parents may not comply with them, pushing the conflict back into court, where a judge will be forced to weigh the federal constitutional rights of parents versus the state rights of grandparents.

Similarly, parents responding to a petition to visit their children should not take matters lightly. Beyond consideration of embracing a relationship between the children and their grandparents, parents should also consult an attorney to ensure they are not subject to orders with which they cannot comply.