In Pennsylvania, grandparents may seek child custody and visitation rights of their grandchildren under certain circumstances. They can also pursue collaborative methods such as alternative dispute resolutions to reach an agreement with the child’s parents.
Reviewing the state laws about grandparent visitation can help you determine the next steps to preserve this important relationship.
Child custody vs. visitation
Grandparents can petition for physical and legal custody of their grandchild only in certain circumstances. About 84,000 Pennsylvania residents, primarily grandparents, have kinship custody of minor family members. If custody is not appropriate or necessary, grandparents can request visitation rights.
In some cases, the court may order supervised visitation. This arrangement ensures the child’s safety and well-being during interactions with grandparents.
Grandparents must file a legal petition with the court to seek custody or visitation. They must follow the proper legal procedures and provide evidence to support their case.
Best interests of the child
The primary consideration in any child custody or visitation case in Pennsylvania is the best interests of the child. The court will assess the ideal situation for the child’s physical, emotional and mental well-being.
Grandparents must show a significant and ongoing relationship with the child. They must also prove that a lack of visitation or custody would be detrimental to the child. For example, you may show the court that you spent time caring for the child while their parents worked.
While grandparents can seek custody or visitation, parents’ rights are paramount. Courts generally respect parents’ decisions about their children except when these decisions negatively affect the child’s well-being. You may be able to reach an agreement through mediation or negotiation. Doing so could allow grandparents to establish visitation or custody without going to court.