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West Chester Attorney Explains Grandparents’ Rights

Providing trustworthy advice about custody and visitation

Grandparents can play an important role in a child’s life by offering love, support and guidance. When families break up, grandparents have rights under Pennsylvania law. Catherine H. Voit regularly represents grandparents seeking to enforce their custody and visitation rights. She works diligently to protect the important bond between a grandparent and grandchild while working toward a solution that serves the best interests of the child.

Grandparents’ visitation rights

When parents divorce, grandparents are sometimes caught in the middle. Grandparents and great-grandparents who are being deprived of visitation (called “partial custody” in Pennsylvania) have legal rights under several scenarios, including:

  • When a parent of the child is deceased
  • When the parents have been separated for at least six months or have begun a divorce proceeding
  • When the child has, for at least 12 consecutive months, resided with the grandparent or great-grandparent and is removed from the home by a parent

In the first two situations, the court will consider several factors when determining custody: the amount of personal contact between the child and the grandparent, whether the custody award would interfere with any parent-child relationship and whether the award is in the best interest of the child. If the child has lived with the grandparent, the court will consider only the second two factors — the best interests of the child and interference with a parent’s rights.

Pursuing full physical and legal custody

Grandparents can also seek to raise a grandchild. A grandparent who is not currently acting in place of a parent must satisfy a number of criteria in order to get full legal and physical custody.

First, the relationship with the child must have begun either with the consent of a parent of the child or under a court order, and the grandparent must be willing to assume responsibility for the child. Second, one of the following conditions must be met:

  • The child has been determined to be a dependent child.
  • The child is substantially at risk because of parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse or incapacity.
  • The child has, for at least 12 consecutive months, lived with the grandparent, and has been removed from the home by the parents.

The court will consider whether it is in the best interest of the child to be in the custody of the grandparent rather than in the custody of either parent.

Custody cases involving the rights of grandparents can be complicated, particularly if the child’s parents are undergoing a divorce or other family problems. Catherine H. Voit listens to your concerns and explains your legal options. She will protect your rights and the interests of your grandchildren, whether it is through negotiation or litigation.

Trust your custody case to an experienced West Chester lawyer

Family law attorney Catherine H. Voit helps grandparents throughout Chester County protect their legal rights to custody and visitation. Call Catherine today at 484.881.3185 or contact her online to schedule your appointment.

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