SACRAMENTO – Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law a bill that grants the grandparents of children with incarcerated parents the right to petition to visit with the children.
The Grandparents Visitation Rights Bill, AB 1628, received unanimous bipartisan support in the legislature and will take effect January 1, according to Assemblymember Steve Fox (D-Palmdale).
“If it is in the child’s best interest to maintain an existing family connection, the law should permit it,” said Fox. “Often, the children of incarcerated parents have close relationships with their grandparents already.”
Current law prevents grandparents from petitioning for visitation with the children of married parents unless a handful of circumstances are present, including the parents are living separately or the child is not living with either parent. Existing law does not address situations where a parent is absent due to incarceration.
Fox’s bill will permit a grandparent to file a petition for visitation while the parents are married if one of the parents is incarcerated or involuntarily institutionalized. If it is found to be in the child’s best interest, AB 1628 will allow children of incarcerated parents to visit with grandparents in stable and supportive family homes.
According to a national survey, approximately 52% of California’s 132,000 adult inmates are parents. A report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation said almost 10,000 of the state’s inmates rely on grandparents to care for their children while they are incarcerated. Many care placements with grandparents preceded the parents’ incarceration and were informal arrangements.
“Research tells us children who face separation from a parent fare much better in the long run if they can visit with other family members,” said Fox. “This law is good for families in crisis.”
For more information, visit www.asmdc.org/fox.