Written By: Brandy Miller | June 1, 2016 | No Comments

Grandparents play a key role in grandchildren’s lives. They can share knowledge and family history with their grandchildren, and in many cases, grandparents provide the unconditional love and support children crave. While in many cases parents are eager to foster good relationships between grandparents and grandchildren, this is not always the case. In Pennsylvania, in some cases, grandparents have gone to court to fight for the right to see their grandchildren and to spend time with the younger generations of their families.

Pennsylvania Law and Grandparents

In Pennsylvania, grandparents have two options for seeking visitation with their grandchildren: supervised physical custody and partial physical custody. When partial physical custody is awarded, grandparents are allowed to take their grandchildren out on trips. With supervised physical custody, visitation can only happen when custodial parents decide where and how visits take place. This type of visitation may not ensure time alone with a grandparent and grandchild.

Grandparents Rights and Parental Rights in Pennsylvania

Grandparents are only able to file for supervised physical custody or partial physical custody in specific circumstances. If the family is intact — that is, the parents are together and married — grandparents have little ability to seek legal redress. In fact, grandparents, or great-grandparents, are only able to file for supervised physical custody or partial physical custody in three circumstances:

  • If the parents of the child are divorced.
  • If the parent (who is the grandparents’ child) has passed away.
  • If the parents of the child have been separated for six months or longer or have filed for divorce.

Pennsylvania has a goal of preserving families and protecting families from outside influence. Even though courts aim to act in the best interests of the child, in general, courts believe the best interests of the child include maintaining parental rights. This means if married parents don’t want grandparents to have access to grandchildren, grandparents don’t have as many rights to exercise.

Do You Have a Grandparents’ Claim?

If you do believe you have a grandparents’ visitation claim in Pennsylvania, you will need to establish the amount of personal contact that took place between you and your grandchild before you apply for visitation. If you can show that visitation is in the child’s best interest and that you had a strong relationship before the application, you may have a chance of getting visitation rights.

In addition, if the grandchild lived with you for 12 months or more and was removed by their parents, you may get visitation rights. However, you must file within six months of the grandchild leaving your home.

Adoption of a child may further affect grandparents’ claims and visitation rights. The best way to evaluate what rights you may have in your circumstances is to speak with an attorney experienced in family law.

If you are a grandparent and are concerned about your grandchild, contact Miller Law Group about grandparent visitation rights. Our attorneys work in Berks County, Reading, PA, to help protect families and children. We would be happy to evaluate your situation and to give you insights into your rights as grandparents.