PennsylvaniaChild Visitation Laws
Pennsylvania Child Custody Guide :: Table of Contents
What is child visitation?In the context of a child custody case, visitation is defined as the rights for a non-custodial parent to see their child, or as temporary custody that's been granted for a period of time to an otherwise non-custodial parent or relative.
In general, courts in Pennsylvania assume that it is beneficial for both biological parents of a child to have shared custody or visitation, unless it is shown to be against the child's best interests. A biological parent who is denied custody may be awarded visitation rights to provide for a relationship between the parent and child.
Visitation by grandparents, family members, or other third-parties is less clear cut in Pennsylvania, and nationwide. While there are state guidelines regarding third-party visitation in certain situations, these laws are frequently challenged.
Above all else, courts in Pennsylvania strive to make custody and visitation decisions that are "in the best interests of the child". The court handling each individual visitation case has significant flexibility in determining what arrangement is in the child's best interests. You can read about Pennsylvania's visitation guildelines on this page.
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How are Visitation Rights Requested?Pennsylvania law states that a biological parent of a minor child may request visitation rights as part of an open divorce, parentage or custody case or may file a petition for visitation in none of these circumstances apply.
The court will consider whether a visitation arrangement is in the "best interests of the child." Factors considered will include: the well being of the child, the child's relationship with siblings and other relatives, parental preferences, the child's wishes and any history child abuse or domestic violence.
A court may grant visitation to a grandparent if at least one of the child's parents is deceased, the parents are divorced or separated for more than six months, or the child has lived with the grandparent for more than 12 months. Determination of grandparent visitation must include consideration of the best interest of the child.
In the state of Pennsylvania, there are a number of laws regarding child visitation regarding visitation for third-parties other than the biological parents of the child. While state laws regarding third-party visitation have been frequently been challenged in courts, they are a good indication of Pennsylvania's positions regarding non-parental visitation rights.
Visitation Rights Of Grandparents In Pennsylvania:
Pennsylvania has special statutes regarding the child visitiation rights of grandparents under different circumstances. Under state law, the grandparents of children may obtain visitation while the parents are alive, regardless of the parent's marital status.
Regardless of state presumptions regarding grandparent's visitation rights under specific circumstances, a Pennsylvania court may allow or prevent visitation rights in any situation based on the best interests of the child.
Visitation Rights Of Other Parties In Pennsylvania:
Are step-parents granted visitation rights in the state of Pennsylvania?
Generally it is an uphill battle for step-parents seeking visitation rights for a step-child, especially if the biological parents of the child are alive and are opposed to the visitation.
The state of Pennsylvania does not have any laws that grant child visitation rights to step-parents, which may make applying for visitation significantly harder. In all cases, third-party visitation rights are more likely to be granted by the court if they are deemed to be in the best interests of the child.
Can other interested parties or relatives be granted visitation rights to a child in Pennsylvania?
Under state of Pennsylvania law, it is not generally possible for any other interested party other than those specified to be granted child visitation rights. In rare cases this may be overruled by the court.
Can parents be granted visitation rights after termination of parental rights or adoption in Pennsylvania?
In the state of Pennsylvania it is possible to be granted visitation rights after termination of parental rights or giving up a child for adoption. This is the case with both biological parents and previous guardians.