If you’re a parent who is getting a divorce in Pennsylvania, or if you’re a grandparent whose son or daughter is getting a divorce, you may be curious about a grandparent’s rights after a divorce. If you anticipate there being an issue over the children seeing their grandparents, you have every right to question these rights.
Each state addresses grandparents’ rights differently. In Pennsylvania, a grandparent can seek visitation rights and if the court feels it’s in the child’s best interests, the family court may very well let a child see his or her grandparents after their parents’ divorce, even if the natural parents object.
Often, a grandparent will ask the court to award him or her visitation of their grandchild under the following circumstances:
- The child’s parents are divorcing and the custodial parent won’t let the grandparent see the child.
- The child lived with the grandparent and now that face time is at risk because of the divorce.
- After the divorce, the custodial parent was abusive or neglectful toward the child and therefore the grandparent seeks custody.
- Following the divorce, the grandparent’s son or daughter is incarcerated so they ask the court for visitation so they can continue seeing their grandchild while the parent is in jail or prison.
When Can a Grandparent Seek Visitation?
Under Pennsylvania law, a grandparent can seek visitation rights, also known as “partial custody” when the child’s parents are separated or divorced, or when the family is otherwise broken. A grandparent can ask the court for visitation under the following circumstances:
- One or both of the child’s parents are dead,
- The parents have been separated for a minimum of six months,
- The parents have filed for divorce, or
- The child has lived with his or her grandparent for at least 12 months of their life.
Even if one of the above is true, the court still must decide if awarding visitation or partial custody is in the child’s best interests. In these situations, the burden of proof is on the grandparent to demonstrate to the court that awarding them visitation is in the child’s best interests and that it won’t interfere with the child’s relationship with their parents.