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If you’re a grandparent, you may be wondering if there is any way that you can have rights to your grandchildren, legally-enforceable rights to child custody or visitation. As a general rule, a child’s parents are the proper people to have custody of their children. However, that’s not absolute.

Sometimes, a grandparent or an aunt or uncle believes the child would be better off in their care. This is especially the case if the child’s custodial parent (s) is mentally ill, neglectful, abusive, or has a drug or alcohol problem. In these situations, the third party would have to prove to the family court that the child is living with a parent who is not fit to care for them.

When the Child is Living With Someone Else

It is not unheard of for a child to be living with someone other than a parent or a close relative. If a child is living with one of the parent’s close friends or family members, the more time the child spends with this other person and away from their parents, the more likely the court is to listen to the third party’s reasons for having the child continue living with him or her.

If the third party who is caring for a child is a friend of the child’s parents and the child’s grandparents want custody, the courts will give the grandparents more consideration than the non-relative who is currently caring for the child. Under Pennsylvania law, grandparents have more rights than third parties when it comes to requesting visitation, partial custody, or even legal custody of their grandchild.

Asking for Visitation or Partial Custody

Are you a grandparent who is interested in visitation or partial custody of your grandchild? If so, you’ll be interested in knowing that grandparents in Pennsylvania do have the right to ask the court for visitation or partial custody of their grandchild’s parents are separated or divorced, or if the grandchild lived with the grandparents for 12 or more months.

If the grandparents’ son or daughter is deceased, they also have the right to seek partial custody or visitation of their grandchild. However, under these circumstances, it’s up to the grandparents to prove to the court that it would be in the child’s best interests to let the child see their grandparents.

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