Child custody laws in Pennsylvania can be confusing. Instead of using terms like “visitation,” the laws categorizes several different levels of custody that a parent can obtain. This can be challenging for grandparents, who often seek visitation rights to ensure they can spend some time with their grandchildren. When it comes to grandparents in PA, there are two specific options to seek:
- Supervised physical custody; or
- Partial physical custody.
Obtaining either of these custody rights is not easy, however, as the law typically allows parents to make the decision whether they want their children to visit with their grandparents. If two parents are married and decide to withhold contact from grandparents, there is little the grandparents can do about it. Obtaining grandparent’s rights is not always impossible, though certain circumstances must exist. Specifically, one of the following must be true:
- The parent/child of the grandparents has passed away;
- The parents have gotten divorced;
- The parents have been separated for over six months or are in the process of getting divorced;
- The child lived with grandparents for at least a year, the parents removed the child from the home, and the grandparents file a claim within six months of the removal.
If any of the above circumstances apply, grandparents have legal standing to request custody rights from the court. If a grandparent simply wants to visit with a child – even with the parent present – they should request supervised physical custody. If a grandparent wants to take the child on trips or outings, they must obtain partial physical custody.
As with any type of custody determination, courts will determine whether granting grandparent custody rights is in the best interests of the child. Some considerations include how close the relationship is between the child and grandparent and the emotional effects of continuing or ending that relationship. Also, courts will examine whether granting custody rights to a grandparent will have any type of interference with the child’s relationship with their parents.
Call our office at (215) 515-8464 for more information.
At the Law Office of Smith & Horwitz, our highly experienced Philadelphia family law attorneys have helped many families in and around Philadelphia with complex child custody matters. We will stand up for your rights to protect your relationship with your child or grandchild and we fully understand Pennsylvania child custody laws. If you would like to learn more about our services, please contact our office today.