Typically, issues involving child visitation and custody arise during a couple’s divorce proceedings.  However, parents are not always married when such issues arise, nor are they the only ones who may be involved in custody and visitation issues. Your Conshohocken family lawyers will tell you that besides unmarried parents, other individuals may seek visitation and/or custody of a child, in certain circumstances.

Who Can Seek Custody and Visitation?

In order for someone to file for custody of a minor, he or she must have what is commonly referred to as “standing.” If an individual has standing, that means he or she has the right to go before a judge and make his or her request. In cases involving custody, an individual is required to have a significant relationship to the child in question in order to show he or she has the requisite standing needed.

Generally, those with standing in custody cases include a parent, an individual acting “in loco parentis (acting as a parent) and a grandparent (in certain circumstances). With respect to grandparents, under the Grandparent’s Visitation Act, if it is determined that it would be in the child’s best interest for his or her grandparent to have custody, it may be granted, so long as it does not “unduly interfere” with the child’s relationship with his or her parents.

Grandparents who seek to obtain full legal and physical custody of their grandchild must meet certain criteria, such as:

  • The grandparent must be willing to be responsible and care for the child
  • One of the child’s parents allowed the grandparent to have a relationship with the child or such a relationship was court ordered
  • A court determined the child is at risk due to alcohol and/or drug use or abuse, or the child has lived with the grandparent for 12 months consecutively but was later removed by the parents

Grandparents might also seek to obtain partial or supervised physical custody if a parent has died, the parents have lived separate and apart for six or more months or, like above, the child has resided with the grandparent for 12 consecutive months but has been removed by a parent.

Helpful Information to Keep in Mind as You Deal With Custody and Visitation Issues

One thing that parents and others involved in custody and visitation battles should keep in mind is that child custody and child support are two completely different issues. All too often, we hear of a parent not allowing the other parent to see a child because he or she has failed to pay child support.

Similarly, a parent might refuse to allow the other parent to see the child for one reason or another, and the other parent may decide to stop paying child support. Neither of these scenarios is allowed under the law. If you are experiencing issues with child support, you can seek assistance from the court, particularly if the non-paying parent is in violation of an actual court order.

If you have questions or concerns about custody and visitation rights, we encourage you to contact Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP at (610) 825-3634 or use our online contact form.