Custody and visitation rights for grandparents

| Feb 23, 2021 | Grandparents' Rights

There are not many relationships resembling the one shared between grandparents and their grandchildren. This bond of love will sometimes cause a grandparent in Pennsylvania to become worried if they sense a problem exists in the lives of one or more of their grandkids. However, when it becomes apparent intervention is necessary, a grandparent may be unsure of their rights.

Parental Rights

In most cases regarding the rearing and well-being of a child, family law tends to give parents broad autonomy. The major exception to this is when a child experiences abuse or neglect in the home. Disagreeing with the decision-making of a parent is not enough to disrupt parental rights. Circumstances that can lead to the removal of children from their home include:

  • Medical neglect
  • Lack of proper care
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Parental substance abuse
  • Extreme neglect or abandonment

Providing a home for grandchildren

Grandparents can take legal action when they feel a problem with their grandchildren makes it necessary to take over their full-time care. The first step in this process is filing a petition for custody. If the child has already been living with them for more than six months, the filing should happen in the grandparents’ county of residence. If not, the child’s current county of residence should receive the petition.

Visitation rights

Disputes can also happen regarding grandparental visitation rights. This is another area of family law that does not provide grandparents with the enforceable rights many of them feel they deserve.

However, grandparents can petition the court for partial custody or visitation rights when certain circumstances apply. The death of one of the child’s parents is such a situation. Grandparents may also file a petition for visitation rights within six months of a grandchild leaving their home. The child must have lived with the grandparents for one calendar year for this provision to apply.

The love a grandparent feels for their grandchildren is sometimes not enough to guarantee their safety and maintain a relationship with them. A Pennsylvania family law attorney may become necessary to help grandparents protect custody and visitation rights. If one parent or both deny you access to your grandchildren or you’re concerned for their well-being, you might consider seeking legal counsel.

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