February 21, 2024

Whole Family

Trailblazing Family Excellence

Stepparent Visitation Legal rights in California

3 min read

California has endeavored, by statute, to understand the right of stepparents to have visitation rights with their stepchildren. Nonetheless, quite a few modern Courtroom selections, have severely confined the scope of stepparent’s rights, and, the jurisdiction and discretion of trial courts in thinking of stepparent visitation requests.

A. Statutory Authority For Stepparent Visitation Rights in California:

1. Spouse and children Code, Area 3101 provides that:

a) A court may perhaps grant affordable “visitation” to a stepparent, if visitation by the stepparent is identified to be in the best passions of the minimal baby
b) That if a domestic violence protective get was issued towards a stepparent, the court docket SHALL consider irrespective of whether that adversely has an effect on the request
c) Stepparent visitation rights Could NOT be requested that would conflict with a appropriate of custody or visitation of a delivery mother or father who is not a party.

2. Loved ones Code, Area 3176(a) presents that if a stepparent’s request for visitation with a stepchild is “contested” that the matter might be referred to mediation and

3. Relatives Code, Section 3185 presents that if mediation does not consequence in an agreement about the stepparent’s request for visitation with a stepchild, the mediator shall so inform the court docket, and, the court SHALL set the make a difference for a prolonged induce listening to on the unresolved troubles.

B. Appealate Courtroom Selections Restricting The Demo Court’s Jurisdiction And Discretion In Stepparent Visitation Requests:

1. The important component to remember is that California’s statute ONLY addresses a stepparent’s proper to sensible “visitation” with a stepchild.

2. The California stepparent visitation statute DOES NOT confer “jurisdiction” to a demo court docket to award a stepparent “custody” rights to a stepchild in an motion brought below the California Family members Regulation Act. This position was created apparent in the circumstance of In re the Relationship of Lewis & Goetz(1988) 203 Cal Application 3d 514.

3. Also, equally the U S Supreme Court docket, and, the California Court of Enchantment, in the latest choices, have seriously restricted the “discretion” of a trial court docket in ruling on a stepparent’s request for stepparent visitations, in which the natural, start mother or father and/or mothers and fathers Object to the request. Precisely:

a) In the scenario of Toxel v. Granville (2000) 530 US 57, the United States Supreme Court docket, in striking down a Washington statute held:

(1) That the Owing Procedure Clause of the Structure accords moms and dads a basic correct to increase their small children, and, to make selections relating to the treatment, custody, and command of their young children

(2) That absent a displaying of unfitness of a child’s parent, that there is a presumption that healthy parents act in the very best desire of their small children, and, when a parent’s determination is judically challenged, the demo courtroom Will have to give the parent’s determination “unique excess weight” and

(3) That as extensive as a mum or dad adequately cares for his or her children, the Owing Procedure Clause does not permit a condition to infringe on the basic rights of moms and dads to make little one rearing decisions only due to the fact a point out decide believes a “far better determination could be manufactured” than the selection of a in shape mother or father

b) In the current California Court docket of Attractiveness scenario of In re the Relationship of W (2003) 114 Cal Application 4th 68, the Court:

(1) Cited with approval the Toxel v. Granville determination and

(2) Ruled that the demo court docket, who granted a stepfather continued visitations with his stepson, over the objection of the kid’s birth moms and dads, UNCONSTITUTIONALLY utilized Household Code, Section 3101 in that situation, considering the fact that the file did not disclose that the demo court docket gave “exclusive pounds” to the parent’s objections, and, there was no demonstrating that the objecting dad and mom ended up unfit parents.It bears notation that in the Marriage of W case:

(a) the stepparent had been with the child’s beginning mom given that the stepchild was extremely young

(b) the stepparent had, post-divorce to the birth mom, been training frequent visitations with the stepchild, who referred to him as “Father”

(c) the trial court had referred the circumstance to a Baby Custody Evaluator who reported that it was in the stepchild’s “very best passions and welfare” to proceed to have visitations with the stepparent.

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