Understanding your rights and legal options as a grandparent during a divorce, child neglect case or another legal matter can be difficult. Each state has unique rules in terms of visitation. You must learn the laws in Pennsylvania to protect the rights you may have.

You do not have to feel powerless as a grandparent in Pennsylvania. You may be able to take steps to obtain visitation or to have the authorities intervene for the safety of your grandchildren.

Your rights to visitation

Building a relationship with your grandchildren can be important for you and for them. Yet if you have a broken or difficult relationship with your children, visiting grandchildren might not be easy. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania law makes grandparents secondary to parents when it comes to visitation rights. Unless specific exceptions exist, the grandparent will not have the right to visit grandchildren if the parents forbid it.

The Grandparent Visitation Act in Pennsylvania explains that a grandparent could seek legal visitation rights or partial custody in certain situations: if the parent has passed away, the parents are filing for divorce or separation or if the child has resided with you for at least one year. In these cases, you could have a legal right to grandchild visitation. You may have visitation rights in other situations if you challenge the law and succeed.

Your rights to intervene

You always have the right to intervene if you believe your grandchildren are in any kind of physical or emotional risk. In situations involving potential neglect or abuse, you have the right to seek custody. A family law attorney may help you prove that you are willing to assume custody of your grandchild, and that your grandchild is at risk of parental abuse, substance abuse or neglect.

The courts will look at your case and the evidence your lawyer has presented to make a decision on a grandchild visitation or custody matter. In the end, the judge will make a decision according to what will serve the child’s best interests.