Sometimes grandparents retain a good relationship with both of their grandchild’s parents when the parents divorce. In this case, the parents generally allow and even encourage the grandparents to visit the grandchild.
However, sometimes one parent stands in the way of grandparent visitation following a divorce. Grandparents in Pennsylvania are not automatically entitled to visitation time with their grandchild if this happens. Grandparents can only seek visitation under the following circumstances.
When can a grandparent seek visitation?
Pennsylvania’s “Grandparent Visitation Act” addresses the issue of grandparent visitation in Pennsylvania. In most circumstances, although these matters are decided on a case-by-case basis, Grandparent visitation is referred to as “partial physical custody” in the statute.
To pursue visitation time with a grandchild, the grandparent must have “standing.” This means they have a legally recognized reason to seek visitation time.
One reason a grandparent might be able to seek visitation is if one or both of the child’s parents have passed away. Only the parent of the deceased parent can pursue visitation rights in this situation.
A second reason a grandparent might be able to seek visitation is if the child’s parents have separated for six months or more or filed for divorce and the parents disagree about grandparent visitation.
Finally, a third reason a grandparent might be able to seek visitation is if the child lived with the grandparent for one year or more for consecutive periods of time, but the parents subsequently removed the child from the grandparent’s home.
The best interests of the child
In addition to the above reasons, any grandparent visitation awarded must be in the best interests of the child and it cannot interfere with an existing parent-child relationship.
For example, a grandparent might be able to seek visitation if they have standing and they have a strong bond with the child and regular visitation between them and the child will not harm the parent’s existing parent-child relationship.
Gaining visitation time can be challenging
While it might seem like these requirements for grandparent visitation are relatively straightforward, gaining visitation rights can be very challenging for grandparents. Courts take the best interests of the child and a parent’s rights very seriously. Still, grandparents who want to seek visitation time with their grandchild and have legal standing to do so might be successful under the right circumstances.