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Do grandparents have visitation rights in Pennsylvania?

Many grandparents develop special bonds with their grandchildren. When their parents go through a divorce, it can be difficult for grandparents to know what rights they have in order to see their grandchildren again. There can be shared custody between the parents, sole custody or other arrangements. Grandparents may be unaware that they might have rights for visitation and it is often in the best interest of a child to regularly see their grandparents.

According to the Pennsylvania Custody and Grandparents' Visitation Act, grandparents have the right to petition the court for visitation with their grandchildren. But, there are certain conditions that must be met in order for this to happen. First, one of the parents must have died. Or, the parents are divorced and have been separated for at least six months. Or, a child has lived with a grandparent for 12 months or more and then returned to a parent. A court will consider many factors before awarding a grandparent visitation rights, including: the child's emotional and physical well-being; the past relationship the child has had with the grandparents; the potential impact on the child's emotional growth; and what the child prefers, if they are old enough.

Grandparents who are interested in establishing a visitation order with their grandchildren may want to speak with a legal professional who is skilled in family law. An attorney may be able to help grandparents learn what their legal rights are and how they can go about setting up a schedule to see their grandchildren. Grandparents are oftentimes important members of a child's family and they may be able to gain access to their grandchildren.

Custody arrangements can be complicated in a divorce situation. Grandparents should know that they have legal rights to see their grandchildren in some situations.

Source: pailp.org, "The grandparents' guide to custody & visitation in Pennsylvania", accessed on Feb. 27, 2017

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