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When do grandparents have a right to custody or visitation?

Extended family members can play critical roles in the lives of children. In some Pennsylvania families, grandparents are especially close with their grandkids, and the divorce or separation of the parents can affect the relationship they have with the younger members of the family. For various reasons, grandparents may feel like they should seek visitation or custody. 

The issue of grandparents' rights is complex. When grandparents feel they must take legal action to secure time or custody of their grandkids, they may be unsure of what they should do to accomplish this goal or what courts consider when they are hearing these types of cases. If you are a grandparent and you believe it is necessary to fight for custody or visitation, it may help to learn more about what courts look at before you move forward.

The best interests of the grandchildren

The ultimate goal of any child custody agreement is to protect the best interests of the children above all else. This means that the courts will look at what will be the most beneficial for the children and whether that includes allowing you to have custody or visitation rights. The court will also determine whether it is beneficial for you to maintain a relationship with your grandkids -- especially if they are already very close. Some of the things the court will look at include:

  • Your physical ability to care for your grandchildren and keep them safe
  • The wishes of the grandparents, parents and kids
  • What is best for the mental and emotional health of the children
  • The strength of the relationship grandparents have with the kids
  • Evidence of drug or alcohol abuse by the parents or grandparents
  • The physical distance between grandparents and grandkids

These are only a few factors that could affect the success of a potential case you may bring to secure access to or custody of your grandchildren. Custody battles are complex and lengthy, and you will find significant benefit in having experienced legal guidance from the very beginning of this process.

It can help to seek an assessment of your case before you move forward. An explanation of your legal options can help you see if it is worthwhile to pursue custody or visitation, or if it may be possible to reach a reasonable out-of-court solution with the parents of your grandchildren. With guidance, it may be possible to reach your goal of securing and protecting your relationship with your beloved grandkids.

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