When a marriage ends and there are minor children in the home, the changes brought about can have a devastating impact on more than parents and their kids. Other relatives who had developed bonds with the children, including grandparents, can experience a tremendous sense of loss.
The Rights of Grandparents in Divorce Proceedings in Pennsylvania
It’s always permissible for the parents of any children of divorce to agree to allow visitation with grandparents. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen very often. Even in the absence of parental consent, grandparents may petition the court for visitation rights, under the following conditions:
- At least one of the parents is deceased
- Where the parents’ marriage is legally dissolved or the parents have not cohabitated in at least six months, or
- The child has lived with grandparents for a least a year
As with all matters related to custody and visitation in Pennsylvania, any determination related to grandparent visitation must be evaluated in terms of whether it will be in the best interests of the child. The court must also consider the nature of the grandparent-grandchild relationship before the request for visitation, and must also conclude that granting visitation will not unreasonably interfere with the parent-child relationship.
Grandparents who seek physical custody of a minor grandchild will be required to show that such a grant is not only in the best interests of the child, but will encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact with the parent. If the child is subsequently adopted, all visitation rights end, unless the adopter is a grandparent.