Like many grandparents, you may feel that having grandchildren is one of the great joys in your life. There is something gratifying in the innocence and exuberance of a grandchild, coupled with the devotion and trust they offer without condition.
However, you may be in a situation where contact with your grandchildren is limited. Perhaps you are not able to see them at all due to circumstances between the parents of the children. For example, if the parents are divorcing, the custodial parent may decide to prevent contact between you and the children.
Visitation rights for grandparents
Visitation in Pennsylvania is known as "physical custody." The two kinds of visitation a grandparent may seek are partial physical custody or supervised physical custody. Partial physical custody means you can take your grandchildren to places of your choice. Under supervised physical custody, you meet with the children wherever the custodial parent decides.
There are only a few conditions under which you may request visitation:
- Your child, who is the parent, dies.
- The parents separate for at least six months.
- The parents are in the process of divorcing.
- The child has lived with you for more than 12 months before returning to live with his or her parents.
In Pennsylvania, the courts strive to protect families from lawsuits that may divide them. This is why grandparents who seek visitation with their grandchildren may have a difficult battle to fight.
Certain conditions may work in your favor
If you file for visitation, a judge will take certain criteria into consideration:
- How much personal contact did you have with the children before you filed for custody?
- Would visitation with you interfere with the relationship your grandchildren have with their parents?
- Is visitation with you in the best interests of the children?
Of course, you may file for custody of any type if you believe your grandchildren are in danger. For example, their parents may be abusive or neglectful, or they may suffer from an addiction or other illness that renders them unable to care for the children properly.
Having an advocate improves your chances
With every petition for custody that comes before the court, there is potential for the laws to change. It is important for you to have an attorney who keeps up with those changes to increase your chances of a positive outcome. Grandparents have rights, and a compassionate and experienced attorney will protect those rights.
Whether you are seeking visitation with grandchildren who are being denied your companionship or hoping to provide a safe home for grandchildren whose parents cannot care for them, having legal counsel provides you with the advice and guidance you need to rebuild or maintain a strong relationship that your grandchildren can cherish throughout their lives.