The right of grandparents to visit or have custody of their grandchildren has been, and continues to be, a complicated and changing legal issue. Before Pennsylvania enacted laws protecting the rights of grandparents it was almost impossible for grandparents to sue for visitation, or for partial custody of their grandchildren. (See Section on Custody for definition of these terms).
The Domestic Relations Code provides grandparents or great-grandparents with the right to file a legal action for partial custody or visitation under certain circumstances. When these circumstances exist the grandparents may petition a court for an order granting reasonable partial custody or visitation rights, or both (See section on Custody for explanation of these terms). The court, if it finds that partial custody or visitation rights would be in the best interest of the child. and would not interfere with the parent-child relationship, will grant an order to the grandparent(s) or great grandparent(s).
The Domestic Relations Code provides three instances in which the court should consider partial custody or visitation for grandparents:
- When one parent has died
- When the parents are separated for six months or more (this section is currently on appeal as Berks County Court ruled it to be unconstitutional)
- When the child has lived with the grandparents for a year or more
It is quite complicated for grandparents to gain full primary child custody. Attorney Ghen has the experience in dealing with these situations. Only under very particular circumstances, not necessarily those set forth in the Divorce Code, would a grandparent or great grandparent obtain an order for primary custody of a grandchild.
In order to determine if your situation is one that may be appropriate for you to obtain visitation rights or custody of a grandchild please call Attorney Ghen to schedule an appointment. Attorney Ghen offers all clients a free initial consultation.
As a family law attorney, Attorney Ghen also represents parents who are harassed or interfered with by grandparents and who, for the best interest of their children, do not want the grandparents to have visitation or partial custody (See Section on Custody for definition of these terms).
Attorney Ghen represents clients seeking to enforce their rights as grandparents or great grandparents as well as parents defending against those claims in Berks County, Pennsylvania.