Start your case for grandparents visitation

To ask the judge to order that you can have visitation with your grandchildren, you need to either join an existing custody case or start your own. Then, you can ask for a court date so a judge can decide if you can have visitation.

Before you start

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Contact a court's Self-Help Center to get free help to get started. Not all county courts have the same process. Self-Help Center staff can explain the rules about where you can file a case and what type of papers you need to file.

How to ask for grandparent visitation

  • Find out if there's already a court case about child custody

    If there is already a California court case about the custody of your grandchild, then you file papers to ask to join that case and ask for a court date. Typically, a child custody case is a family law case. For example, a divorce case between your grandchild's parents. 

    The California county court where the case was filed will have a record. You can call or try to look up a case online. Some custody cases are confidential, others, like a divorce, you may be able to look up online. If you find there is a case, get the case number. You'll use that case number when you file the papers.

    If there isn't a case for you to join, you will need to start one. 

  • Join or start a court case

    Create a Petition

    You need to create a Petition to either start or join a case (called joinder). There is not a statewide court form for this type of case. But, your local county court may have a template you can use.

    The rest of the forms you need depend on whether you're starting a case or joining one.

    If you're starting a case

    Along with your Petition, you'll need to fill out

    If you're joining a case

    Along with your Petition for Joinder, you'll need to fill out

    • Declaration under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (form FL-105)
    • Summons (Joinder)(form FL-375)
    • Notice of Motion and Declaration for Joinder (form FL-371). The clerk will write in a court date when a judge will decide if you can join the case. 

  • Fill out forms to get a court date

    You will need to ask for a court date so a judge can make a decision about visitation. Fill out a

    In your request, you will need to describe your existing relationship with your grandchild. For a judge to order visitation, they will need to find you and the grandchild have an existing bond.

    You can attach a Child Custody and Visitation (Parenting Time) Application Attachment (form FL-311) to describe the exact visitation schedule you want. 

    A judge can only order that you have reasonable visitation. When you ask for a visitation schedule, think about the child's current schedule and what time they could spend with you that would feel natural. The child may have many family members they spend time with, like their other grandparents or aunts and uncles. The child may have many weekend activities, like sports or playdates with friends. Think about what is reasonable given everything going on in the child's life. 
  • Make copies

    Make a copy all all the papers for yourself and the parents (or anyone who has custody of the child). The court will keep th original. 

    So, if there are 2 parents, you will need to make 3 copies. 

  • File and pay fee

    If you joined a case, file papers in the court where that case is.

    If you start your own case, file in the county where your grandchild lives.

    Find a court address

    To file your forms with the court, give the original and the 2 copies to the court clerk. The clerk will keep the original and will stamp the copies and return them to you. 


    The clerk will write a court date on your Form FL-300. If you asked to join a case, you'll also get a court date on your Form FL-371.


    illustration representing a fee to be paid

    You will need to pay a fee when you file the papers. Typically around $435.00, plus another $60.00 for your court date. If you can't afford this fee, you can ask for a fee waiver

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