When to Retain a Lawyer with Regards to Grandparent Rights

Spending time with grandchildren is among life’s greatest rewards and pleasures, and the threat of losing that relationship as a result of a divorce or the death of your child is absolutely devastating. Unfortunately, it’s a reality for far too many grandparents. Whether you’re at risk for losing your grandchildren because of difficulties involving your child’s relationship with their co-parent, the death of your child, or even the dissolution of your relationship with your own daughter or son, you have certain rights under Pennsylvania’s laws. Though there is not always an answer, there are specific circumstances where grandparents have legal rights and should retain an experienced attorney.

When it comes to child custody, the state of Pennsylvania’s primary interest lies in what is in the best interests of the child. Though that may be clear to you based on your feelings, the courts need proof of one of the following specific circumstances:

  • That your child – who was the parent of your grandchild – has died. This circumstance is not affected by whether your child was still married or in a relationship with their co-parent at the time of their death.
  • That your child and their co-parent of your grandchild have been separated for six or more months. This circumstance can also be met by proof that an annulment or divorce is underway.
  • That your grandchild resided with you for 12 months or more prior to having been removed from your home by their parent(s). This circumstance is not affected by whether the parents are married, divorced, separated, or any other status.

Beyond meeting these circumstances, you will need to prove that you have standing to file a lawsuit seeking custody of or visitation with your grandchild. The criteria for standing include:

  • Your request for custody or visitation being in your grandchild’s best interests
  • Your relationship to your grandchild’s parents or legal guardian
  • The history of your relationship with the child and your closeness to the child prior to and up until the time when you are seeking custody
  • Your having custody or visitation not interfering with the child’s relationship with their parent
  • Your grandchild being unmarried

Custody and visitation of grandchildren is an extremely emotional issue. For competent, empathetic legal counsel, contact us today.