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3 key facts about grandparents' rights in Pennsylvania

When it comes to grandparents' rights, the states are allowed to set their own laws and regulations. This can lead to a lot of confusion when people move between states and assume that the statutes are going to be the same. They may be similar, but they're typically not identical.

That said, here are three key facts about how the court may give grandparents visitation rights in Pennsylvania:

  1. These rights can be legally granted if the parents have been separated or divorced for over six months. They can also be granted if the child has been living in the same home as the grandparents -- perhaps because of marital strife, for example -- for over a year. Furthermore, these visitation rights can be granted if one of the child's parents has passed away.
  2. The rights will be terminated by an adoption. The only way this does not happen is if a stepparent or grandparent is the one who is adopting the child. So, if a grandparent is given rights and then a couple gives a child up for a closed adoption to another family, those rights could be lost.
  3. Important factors that the court considers when deciding if the grandparents should have visitation rights include possible interference with the relationship between the parent and the child, the best interests of the child in general and the type of contact that the child and the grandparents have already had.

Grandparents who are worried that they may lose their rights to see their grandchildren must know all of their legal options. While parental rights typically trump grandparents' rights, visitation can be granted to maintain contact when it's important for both parties.

Source: FindLaw, "Summaries of State Law: Grandparent Visitation and Custody," accessed Oct. 27, 2017

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