California California

Child Visitation Laws

Visitation General Information

What is child visitation?

In the context of a child custody case, visitation is defined as the rights for a non-custodial parent to see their child, or as temporary custody that's been granted for a period of time to an otherwise non-custodial parent or relative.

In general, courts in California assume that it is beneficial for both biological parents of a child to have shared custody or visitation, unless it is shown to be against the child's best interests. A biological parent who is denied custody may be awarded visitation rights to provide for a relationship between the parent and child.

Visitation by grandparents, family members, or other third-parties is less clear cut in California, and nationwide. While there are state guidelines regarding third-party visitation in certain situations, these laws are frequently challenged.

Above all else, courts in California strive to make custody and visitation decisions that are "in the best interests of the child". The court handling each individual visitation case has significant flexibility in determining what arrangement is in the child's best interests. You can read about California's visitation guildelines on this page.

California Child Visitation Summary

In California, a biological parent of a minor child may request visitation rights as part of a pending divorce, parentage or custody case. A biological parent may also petition the court for visitation, absent a pending divorce, parentage or custody case by filing a petition for visitation.

When reviewing a request for visitation, the court will base their decision on whether granting a parent visitation would be "detrimental to the child." What is considered detrimental to a child consists of factors related to emotional, health, social and educational needs. If visitation may be detrimental in any of these areas a court may deny or limit visitation rights.

Grandparents are allowed visitation, however, they may only obtain visitation rights if a parent is deceased, the child's parents are divorced or separated, the whereabouts of one parent is unknown, or the child is not residing with either parent. Just as is the case for determining visitation for biological parents, grandparent visitation is allowed as long as it is not "detrimental to the child.

California Child Visitation For Grandparents, Relatives, and Third Parties

In the state of California, there are a number of laws regarding child visitation regarding visitation for third-parties other than the biological parents of the child. While state laws regarding third-party visitation have been frequently been challenged in courts, they are a good indication of California's positions regarding non-parental visitation rights.

Visitation Rights Of Grandparents In California:

California has special statutes regarding the child visitiation rights of grandparents under different circumstances. Under state law, the grandparents of children may obtain visitation while the parents are alive, regardless of the parent's marital status.

Grandparents, Visitation In General


Grandparents, After Death Of Parent


Grandparents, After Divorce Of Parent


Grandparents, Parent Never Married


Regardless of state presumptions regarding grandparent's visitation rights under specific circumstances, a California court may allow or prevent visitation rights in any situation based on the best interests of the child.

Visitation Rights Of Other Parties In California:

Are step-parents granted visitation rights in the state of California?

Generally it is an uphill battle for step-parents seeking visitation rights for a step-child, especially if the biological parents of the child are alive and are opposed to the visitation.

Under California law, legal provisions do exist to grant child visitation rights to step-parents under certain circumstances, so visitation can be readily applied for. In all cases, third-party visitation rights are more likely to be granted by the court if they are deemed to be in the best interests of the child.

Can other interested parties or relatives be granted visitation rights to a child in California?

Under state of California law, it may be possible for other individuals to be granted visitation rights by the court. This might include relatives other than the child'a parents, previous caregivers, etc.

Can parents be granted visitation rights after termination of parental rights or adoption in California?

In the state of California it is possible to be granted visitation rights after termination of parental rights or giving up a child for adoption. This is the case with both biological parents and previous guardians.

| State Law Official Text

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