For Pennsylvanians who have children, no other family law may mean more to them than child custody and visitation. When they come up, the outcomes of these issues can completely define or redefine one’s relationship with his or her child. This means that those who have an interest in maintaining a relationship with a child need to be proactive in ensuring that they protect their legal right to access to that child. On the flip side, those who want to protect their children from contact with those who they deem detrimental to the child will similarly want to take legal action when necessary.
Under Pennsylvania law, only certain individuals can seek child custody or visitation with a child. Parents, of course, fall into this category, but so, too, do those who act in a parental role to a child. Grandparents may also be able to seek custody or visitation, but only when certain factors exist. This includes an existing relationship with the child, the grandparent is willing to take responsibility for the child, and the child is at risk due to some fault of a parent or the child is deemed dependent through state proceedings.
There are no clear cut answers when it comes to making child custody and visitation determinations. This is why the courts turn to the best interests of the child standard. While somewhat subjective in nature, this standard seek custody and visitation arrangements that only further a child’s development and growth. Therefore, if it can be shown that contact with one parent is detrimental, then contact may be reduced or eliminated.
Child custody and visitation matters can be hotly contested, and for good reason. This means that those who are considering seeking the establishment or modification of child custody or visitation orders should be sure they are armed with strong legal arguments that present their position and demonstrate why that position furthers the child’s best interests.