Can someone other than parents get custody or visiting rights?

Yes. California law says that judges first must consider giving custody to one parent or both. But a judge may give custody to another person such as a grandmother, stepfather or friend- without the parent's consent. In such a case, the judge would have to believe that giving custody to either parent would be "detrimental" or harmful to the children and that the children would be better off with someone else. I custody is given to a person other than a parent, the first choice usually is someone who already has made a good home for the child. A judge may give visiting rights to anyone interested in the child's welfare. The law specifically says that stepparents and grandparents who ask for visiting rights may attend mediation sessions along with parents. If no agreement is reached through mediation, the judge will decide whether stepparents and grandparents may visit the children.