By: Robert B. George, Esquire
A parent’s right to raise a child has its basis in the U.S. Constitution, which protects a parent’s rights to make educational, medical, and even visitation decisions on a child’s behalf. Typically, if a parent doesn’t want a child to visit with a certain relative or other person, including a grandparent or grandparents, the parent’s wishes will control.
- When a parent has passed away, when a divorce action is filed, or when the parents are separated for 6 months.
- When the child has lived with the grandparents for 12 or more months, and then is removed by the parents. In this situation, the grandparents must file for visitation within 6 months of the child’s departure from their home.
- In situations where the child is harmed mentally, emotionally, or physically if their relationship with the grandparents ends.
- In some circumstances, a grandparent may have the right to seek custody of a child who is being neglected or abused by a parent.
In each of these instances, a court will try to determine what situation will be best for the child(ren) and what will best serve the child(ren) for his, her or their 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)