Parents must discuss many difficult topics when going through a divorce. The most difficult of these often revolves around visitation rights and child custody because most parents desire to see their kids as much as possible following a divorce.
Parents frequently agree to joint custody plans, but occasionally one parent might file for sole custody to be a child's primary caregiver. Deciding who a child will live with and who will be responsible for him or her can have a lifelong impact. The importance of this decision is why courts frequently intervene to determine what living conditions and visitation plans are in a child's best interests.
Other Important Relationships
Children begin developing relationships with their immediate family at a very early age. They bond with their siblings and rely upon their parents for food, clothes and shelter. However, other important relationships can be cultivated as well, especially when a child develops a close bond with his or her grandparents.
Many grandparents are unaware that they may petition a court for visitation rights or custody of their grandchild. According to the Pennsylvania Custody and Grandparents' Visitation Act, grandparents may petition a court for partial custody and visitation under specific circumstances:
- Upon the death of a birth parent
- When parents are divorced or have been separated for six months or more
- When a child has resided with a grandparent for 12 months or more, followed by the child being removed by a parent
In each of these instances, a court will try to determine what situation will be best for the child and what will best serve the child for his or her future. Before a court will award visitation or custody, however, many factors are taken into account including:
- The child's emotional, physical and emotional well-being
- The past relationship between the child and his or her grandparents
- The child's preferences (if applicable based on age)
- The potential impact on a child's social and intellectual growth (schooling and extracurricular activities)
Seeking Visitation or Custody
It is important to present your custody or visitation case in a way that shows a court you have the best interests of the child in mind. As a result, it can be helpful discuss your situation with an experienced grandparents' rights attorney who can help develop persuasive arguments on your behalf.