What Are Grandparent And Stepparent Rights?

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in the case of Hiller v. Fausey, ruled that the Pennsylvania Grandparent Visitation Statutes are constitutional and are a means to protect the emotional well-being of children who have been estranged from their grandparents.

This means that grandparents in Pennsylvania may seek visitation or "reasonable partial custody" if a parent of the child has died, or if the parents are divorced, have filed for divorce or have been separated for a minimum of six months.

Grandparents can also request physical or legal custody of a child if they already have legal status that allows them to act as the child's parent, or under other specified circumstances, including:

  • The child is a dependent child.
  • The child is substantially at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse or incapacity.
  • The child has resided with the grandparent for at least 12 consecutive months, excluding brief temporary absences of the child from the home, and is removed from the home by the parents. In these cases, the grandparents' action must be filed within six months.

Protect Your Relationship With Your Grandchildren

At Kalinoski Law Offices P.C. in Scranton, Pennsylvania, we represent grandparents throughout northeastern Pennsylvania who want to spend time with their grandchildren, as well as those who have grandchildren who are substantially at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol issues.

We also work with parents to get grandparent primary custody cases dismissed if grandparents do not meet the evidentiary requirements for the award of primary custody.

Grandparents' rights cases are difficult to win. Even when strict evidentiary requirements are met, the trial court judge must still determine what is in a child's best interests, applying a weighted determination in favor of the biological parents.

Standing Up For Stepparent Rights

Similarly, stepparents who have separated or divorced from a custodial parent can find themselves being excluded from a stepchild's life. The law regarding the visitation rights of stepparents is applied in a similar manner as a grandparent case. The key to success in grandparent and stepparent custody/visitation cases is first obtaining standing to seek custody, followed by persuasive arguments and a demonstration that the proposed action is in the best interest of the child.

Do You Have Questions About Your Rights? Call Us.

If you have questions for our experienced Scranton child custody rights and family lawyer, call us at 570-906-8173, or use our online contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.