When parents divorce or there is disagreement in a family, it often causes confusion and upheaval, sometimes affecting established relationships in the extended family as well. If you are a grandparent, you may experience a significant shift in the relationship you have with your grandchildren after a divorce. This can be heartbreaking, especially if you already have an established and strong role in their lives.
If you are no longer able to see your grandchildren due to a divorce or other type of family conflict, you may wonder if there are legal options available to you as the grandparent. Some Pennsylvania family law courts recognize the importance of this relationship, and it could be possible for you to secure access. However, there are various important factors to consider before you proceed with legal action.
The best interests of the children
In most cases, the courts will value the opinions of the two parents above other parties, but above all, it will strive to protect the best interests of the children. Grandparents are unlikely to secure visitation rights unless there is clear evidence that it would be most beneficial for the emotional and mental well-being of the children.
It may also be prudent to consider how a legal battle to secure access could affect the grandkids. It may cause emotional stress if they are still adjusting to their parents' divorce. They may experience feelings of guilt, or they may feel pressure to choose between their grandparents and one or both of their parents. It may be appropriate to consider the timing of legal action and the potential consequences it can bring before suing for visitation.
The impact on you
Initiating a lengthy and potentially complex legal battle is a stressful and sometimes costly endeavor. It is smart to first weigh the financial cost of this effort, as well as the potential emotional and mental impact on you. Additionally, legal action to pursue custody or visitation may result in a loss of privacy.
In some cases, it may not be necessary to file a lawsuit and head to court. It may be practical to first seek a reconciliation with the parent or parents. You may want to look for practical ways to restore your relationship with your grandkids outside of litigation first.
If it's necessary to fight
There are circumstances in which it is appropriate for a grandparent to fight for visitation or even custody. However, it is worthwhile to understand all options and give the matter careful consideration before moving forward. You may want to discuss your concerns with a family law attorney experienced in complex custody concerns.