In family law cases, the Pennsylvania Custody and Grandparents’ Visitation Act governs grandparents’ rights to custody of and visitation with their grandchildren. A family law attorney can explain the law as it pertains to your unique case, but the following is a general overview of grandparents’ rights in Pennsylvania:
A court order can award visitation rights to grandparents. When you receive visitation rights, you will only be allowed to spend time with your grandchild under the supervision of the legal custodian. The courts can award visitation when:
- Either birth parent is deceased; or
- The parents were never married, have been separated for six months or more , or are divorced; or
- The child has lived with the grandparent for one year or more, and the child was taken away by a parent.
Partial custody is different from visitation because it allows the grandparents time to visit with their grandchildren without the legal custodian’s supervision. This time may include holidays, weekends, or vacations. The three circumstances discussed above that are required for visitation are the same that are required for courts to award partial custody.
Full Physical and Legal Custody
There are limited circumstances when a grandparent can file for full custody. The court must find that (1) the custody is in the child’s best interest and (2) that the grandparent has genuine care and concern for the child. In a case where custody is contested by the biological parents, the grandparent will face an uphill battle and strict evidentiary burdens to convince a court that the child’s best interest is served by living with the grandparent.
If you are a grandparent with questions about your rights in a family law case, Fox and Fox Attorneys at Law can help. Our firm was founded in 1921, and family law is one of our main areas of practice. Contact us today at (610) 275-7990 to learn how we can help.
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