When can grandparents pursue visitation rights or custody?

Grandparents who have questions about their right to custody or visitation with their grandchildren call Pollock Begg’s Pittsburgh child custody lawyers for fast, clear answers.

Under Pennsylvania law, grandparents may pursue visitation rights or custody under certain circumstances: (1) when a child’s birth parent is deceased; (2) when the parents are divorced, or have been separated for six or more months; or (3) when a child has been removed from the care of a grandparent after residing with the grandparent for at least a year. Some grandparents have assumed the role of a parent due to the absence of a child’s actual parents (sometimes caused by addiction or lack of interest). If these situations do not exist, then a grandparent’s rights may be derivative from the rights of a parent. In other words, the grandparent may have to carve out time with the cooperation of a parent in order to maintain contact with a grandchild.

What happens when grandparent custody cases go to court?

When grandparent custody cases go to court, the court must consider the best interests of the child, including the benefit of a loving, close relationship with a grandparent; and the impact upon the child’s relationship with one or both parents. The sixteen factors that apply in custody cases between parents are also relevant to grandparent cases. In contests for custody between a grandparent and a parent, the parent always has an advantage under Pennsylvania law. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that parents have a fundamental right under the Constitution to be involved in raising their children, which creates a presumption in their favor. Pennsylvania law explicitly acknowledges the presumption in favor of a parent. Still, under some circumstances, it may be possible for grandparents to overcome the presumption and obtain custody rights over the objection of a parent.

For more information about grandparent custody cases, including visitation, partial and primary custody of grandchildren, call the Pittsburgh child custody lawyers of Pollock Begg.

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