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Visitation and custody for grandparents

As a grandparent, you have a lot to contribute to the well being of the next generation. You may even feel that your grandchildren need a lot more than they are getting from their parents. But under Pennsylvania law your rights are limited at best.

That doesn't mean you can't have custody or visitation with your grandchildren, however. It can be a long fight, but it is possible. The courts do recognize that sometimes it is good for grandparents to be involved or even have full custody.

The best interest of the child

Courts in Pennsylvania have one standard on which everything is based - the best interest of the child. Everything comes from that first and foremost. As a grandparent, you don't have any rights of your own to custody or visitation, but you can prove that the child needs you.

Remember, it's not about your rights or about what you may think of as bad parenting. Everything is about the child in question. It is always best for children to know relatives on both sides of their family as a place to start.

There may be situations where there is even more to it. Many grandparents are gaining full custody these days because of very bad situations at home. It takes a skilled attorney to present this information to the courts properly, without appearing to poison the family relationship unnecessarily.

Still a difficult situation

The courts have been reluctant to give grandparents custody in Pennsylvania, so there is still a high hurdle. In 2016 the Supreme Court handed down a ruling which limited grandparent rights as provided in a major state law.

They found that separation or divorce alone was not enough to consider the grandparents. The impact of this ruling is still being felt, as it makes it difficult. But it is not impossible for grandparents to win access to the children.

Talk to an attorney

If you have been cut off from your grandchildren, there is no harm in talking to an attorney about the situation and what might be done about it. This is a specialized and delicate area, so experience counts. There is always the possibility that visitation and custody for your grandchildren can be achieved, but it is difficult.

Just remember the standard, the best interest of the child, and you will know that the situation can be worked out.

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