Grandparents’ Rights in Pennsylvania

grandparents' rights

The state of Pennsylvania has placed a high level of emphasis on the importance of the family, and this is particularly evident when it comes to the issue of divorce. Though in previous years, it was generally assumed that custody of the children would be given to the mother, with father’s getting only visitation or partial custody unless there were extraordinary circumstances, now the courts believe that children are best served by being thoroughly involved in the lives of both of their parents. These beliefs have extended beyond the immediate family to extended family members such as grandparents. To that end, the state has established the Pennsylvania Custody and Grandparents’ Visitation Act, which provides grandparents with the right to file a petition with the court for either partial custody or visitation under specific circumstances. If your son or daughter has been involved in a divorce and you have grandchildren from the marriage that you want to be able to see, then the law firm of Erik B. Jensen Attorneys at Law can help.

The role of extended family in a child’s life cannot be overstated. The relationships that form help a child to understand society and care and the courts have begun to see that family members beyond a child’s parents need to be addressed and taken into consideration when custody decisions are being made. The Pennsylvania law currently allows grandparents to petition the court for their own custody arrangements when specific circumstances are present. These specifics include:

  • When the birth parent (their son or daughter) has died, leaving them facing the possibility that the surviving parent/spouse will not make their grandchildren available to them.
  • When their son or daughter has been separated for six months or more from their spouse.
  • When there is no divorce or separation between parents, but a grandparent ha had the child living in their home for 12 months or more and then the parent removes the child from the grandparent’s home.

Each of these situations represents a painful reality that the courts try to correct. In reviewing a grandparent’s petition for visitation or partial custody, the court generally takes the view that there is more to a child’s care than simply providing food and shelter, and that close family bonds should be nurtured. The court will review the child’s existing relationship with their grandparent, what the child’s expressed preference is if they are old enough for that to be taken into consideration, and how having the time with grandparents will affect them both socially and intellectually. The court’s priority is always to take the action that will provide best for the child’s physical and emotional wellbeing.

If you are a grandparent and you need information about your legal visitation or custody rights, then law firm of Erik B. Jensen Attorneys at Law can help. Contact us today to set up a consultation to learn more Pennsylvania law.