When Should Grandparents Pursue Custody or Visitation Rights?

going-bob-Lancaster-County-PennsylvaniaBy Robert M. Going Jr., Attorney

Grandparenting can be one of the most joyous roles of your life. From the moment your grandchildren were born, you may have anticipated fun family gatherings, special activities together and, yes, probably a little spoiling, too. Unfortunately, sometimes the role of a grandparent can be challenging and heartbreaking if difficult family situations leave you fearful for the health, safety, and happiness of your grandchildren.

Maybe you’ve been cut off from your grandchildren due to a strained relationship with their parents. Or perhaps you’ve suddenly found yourself playing a major caregiving role in their lives. You may feel powerless but when it comes to the well-being of your grandchildren, you have legal options. While each state has different laws regarding custody rights, recent changes in Pennsylvania custody laws have improved grandparents’ rights, offering numerous legal options to keep your grandchildren safe.

If you are living in Lancaster County, and you feel you need to play a more significant role in the lives of your grandchildren, contact Going and Plank in downtown Lancaster to review your case. A grandparents’ rights lawyer at Going and Plank can discuss the different custody options that are available and help you decide if pursuing grandchild custody is the right choice for you and your grandchildren.

If you are wondering whether your situation requires legal action, here are six reasons why pursuing legal grandchild custody or visitation rights in Pennsylvania might make sense for you or for someone you know.

You May Want to Seek Grandchild Custody Because You Have Raised Your Grandchild as a Parent

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Courts generally want to ensure that a child remains connected with those who have acted as parents or who have tried to act in the best interests of the child. If your grandchildren have lived with you for a year or more and you have assumed sole responsibility for their care, you may have a strong case for grandchild custody, even if the parents are unwilling to give up their custody rights. Contact an experienced attorney at Going and Plank to help you understand your grandparent rights.

Custody is an Option if Your Grandchild’s Parent Suffers From Addiction

An estimated 82,000 grandparents in Pennsylvania are the sole caregivers for 89,000 grandchildren, and that number is increasing due to the opioid crisis. It can be heartbreaking to watch your children suffer from drug and alcohol abuse and addiction despite your best efforts as a loving and supportive parent, especially if it means they can no longer care for their own children – your grandchildren. Even if your grandchild’s parent or guardian is working to end addiction, the process is often long and painful and may require stays at addiction clinics. If you’re concerned that your grandchild will suffer from the abuse, neglect and emotional trauma of living with an addicted parent, you can seek primary custody to provide a safe, stable and loving home. Contact Going and Plank to discuss your custody rights.

You May Seek Custody to Protect Your Grandchild From Harm

Nothing is more painful than knowing your grandchild is in danger of abuse, physical harm, or mental anguish. You may want to protect your grandchild by removing them from a dangerous and unhappy situation. There are many factors that constitute child abuse in Pennsylvania, among them sexual, emotional and physical abuse, neglect and abandonment. However, if you believe your grandchild is in danger, you will need more than your suspicions to gain custody. A custody lawyer at Going and Plank can help research parent behavior, get testimonials, and gather the evidence you need to create a strong case for pursuing primary custody of your grandchildren. Contact us for a free consultation.

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You Find Your Grandchild is Neglected and Needs Consistent Care in Your Custody

As you know from your own experience, raising a child can be a challenge, and some parents meet that challenge better than others. But all children need someone who tends to their welfare and provides responsible and consistent care and supervision. If you suspect your grandchild’s parent or guardian is unable or unwilling to provide proper care, regular meals, appropriate supervision, emotional support and attention to educational needs, contact Going and Plank for a free consultation. We can help you understand how to identify and document neglect. And if you decide to pursue grandchild custody, Going and Plank will help you prepare for court dates with information that will ensure your grandchild is protected.

Your Grandchild Has Been Placed in Foster Care

In foster care, the state takes legal custody of the children and caseworkers to make major decisions on their behalf. In Pennsylvania, an alternative to foster care is kinship care, which allows a relative such as a grandparent to take over the caregiver role for the child, while the state retains legal custody and pays for the child’s care. If your grandchild is already in the custody of the state, you still have options. Contact Going and Plank if you wish to seek foster care status and transition your role into legal guardianship.

There are many reasons grandparents may seek custody of grandchildren, and Grandparents’ Rights vary from state to state.  If you’re concerned about your grandchildren and want to keep them well by expanding your role in their lives, contact us today.

Maggie Vergenes

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