Philadelphia Grandparents Rights Lawyer
A grandparent has no general, absolute right to either Custody or Visitation of a grandchild. This is the bad news. The good news is that there is applicable law to grant a grandparent custody or visitation under certain circumstances, following the revision and determination of the court. If you are a grandparent and you believe that you have a legitimate interest in custody or visitation of your grandchild, call The Law Offices of Greg Prosmushkin, P.C. to schedule a free consultation. We will discuss your situation and advise you regarding your rights and probability of success. Our passionate family law attorneys are dedicated to pursuing the best interests of you and your grandchild.
Grandparents’ right to primary custody of grandchildren is governed by section 5313(b) of the Pennsylvania Domestic Relations Code. The statute clearly illustrates a tremendously high legal standard by which to remove children from the custody of their biological parents and grant custody to the grandparents. There is a very strict standard and each prong must be met so that the court can rule in the grandparents favor. Beyond the ever-present standard of “the best interests of the child,” the evidentiary standard consists of the following:
- The relationship of the grandchildren must have begun with the consent of the parent or pursuant to a court order; AND,
- The court must believe that the grandparent has genuine care and concern for the child; AND,
- The grandchildren must have either, (a) lived with the grandparents for at least 12 months where the grandparent assumed the mantle of acting as the grandchild’s parents, or (b) been declared dependent due to parental abuse or neglect, or (c) are believed to be at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, or drug/alcohol issues of the parent
It is essential that as the grandparent you be able to meet all three prongs of this standard if you wish to win a contested matter against the parents. The standard is both strict and high, but this is reasonable and necessary when given the gravity of such a petition
Grandparents’ rights to visitation are governed by Section 5301 of the Pennsylvania Custody and Grandparents Visitation Act. Visitation is permitted so long as:
- The child’s birth parent is deceased; or,
- The parents have been separated for a period of at least six months and are seeking a divorce or are already divorced; or,
- The child lived with the grandparent for a period of at least 12 consecutive months
Ultimately, the court’s decision is based on the “best interests of the child.” This is the court’s primary concern when dealing with children. Factors the court looks at when evaluating the “best interests of the child” include the child’s physical, emotional, intellectual, moral, and spiritual well-being. Additionally, the court will consider the existing relationship of the child and grandparent, the child’s desires, and the position of the parents. As the court naturally favors the parent-child relationship, any issues between the parents and grandparents will be relevant, and should be resolved between the adult parties if you as a grandparent want to increase your chances of securing visitation.
Why Do I Need an Attorney?
Grandparents’ rights are a bit of an uphill battle. In order to secure visitation – and even more so to gain custody – you must meet the aforementioned criteria. The best way to win such a case is to retain experienced family law counsel to file a petition and appear in court on your behalf. The Law Offices of Greg Prosmushkin, P.C. will fight for you and help you to protect your relationship with your grandchild.
This content was written on behalf of Greg Prosmushkin.