Family law statutes are very confusing and change frequently. Just a few years ago, Pennsylvania state lawmakers made some small but noteworthy adjustments to the family code that could have a profound impact on grandparents.
For the most part, as a grandparent, your relationship with your grandkids is dependent on your relationship with your child or the other parent of your grandchildren. If something happens to destabilize your relationship with the other adults involved, they may use their authority to effectively cut you off from your grandchildren.
In such a situation, it is crucial to understand your rights as a Pennsylvania grandparent. Sometimes, the family courts can help you.
You may have the right to ask for visitation
Children going through a time of instability in their household often need as much support as they can possibly receive. Your relationship with them could be a source of comfort during a time when their parents consistently fight or have such high stress levels that they can’t give the children the attention and affection they need.
Unfortunately, instability between the parents could easily affect your relationship with your grandchildren. Pennsylvania state law now permits grandparents to ask for visitation rights or partial custody in a scenario that disrupts the primary family unit for the child.
When parents have separated or divorced, grandparents can ask the Pennsylvania family court to grant them visitation rights even if the parent with primary custody is not supportive of the grandparent’s desire to spend time with the children.
You can potentially adopt your grandchildren
No one wants to imagine a situation in which their own beloved child is suddenly unable to provide for the needs of their grandchildren. However, that exact scenario affects thousands of families across the state each year.
If the parents of your grandchildren lose custody due to the state investigation, health issues or incarceration, you can step up to serve as their adoptive parent. The Pennsylvania authorities prioritize placement with family members over strangers when they need to place children but in a safe home following their removal from their parents.
Understanding the basic rights that you have as a grandparent in Pennsylvania will make it easier for you to maintain your connection with your grandchildren.