Family structures have changed dramatically in recent years. In fact, only 3 out of 10 children live in traditional families with two parents in their first or only marriage. More children than ever before live in single-parent households, step-parent families, foster families, and are raised by grandparents. These changing family structures have greatly impacted child visitation options. As grandparents play an increasing role in the lives of their grandchildren, many incorrectly believe they are entitled to certain visitation rights. However, this is not always the case.
If a decision is made by both parents to deny grandparent visitation rights, the court is generally inclined to honor their wishes. However, there are some particular circumstances when grandparents can request visitation. Pennsylvania state law specifically outlines three situations in which grandparents can make a visitation request:
1) When a parent has passed away, when a divorce action is filed, or when the parents are separated for 6 months
2) When the child has lived with the grandparents for 12 or more months, and then is removed by the parents. In this situation, the grandparents must file for visitation within 6 months of the child’s departure from their home.
3) In situations where the child is harmed mentally, emotionally, or physically if their relationship with the grandparents ends. The court consistently uses the best interests of the child as the determining factor in making a decision.
Grandparents rights are a rapidly changing and sometimes unclear area of the law. Our experienced Montgomery County family lawyers can assist in your quest to protect the well-being of your grandchildren. We can use our knowledge of grandparents visitation rights to file a petition for court-ordered visitation, preserving the special bond between grandparents and grandchildren.