What Visitation Rights Do Grandparents Have?

divorce lawyer Caroline ThompsonQuestion:

What factors determine if a divorced parent is allowed to have their child spend time with grandparents, relatives, friends, etc.?


I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though, my knowledge is based on Pennsylvania divorce laws where I am licensed to practice.

The courts provide that the parents of the child are the people who determine who their child shall spend time with, be it immediate family members, friends or acquaintances.

There are some exceptions to this general rule, however.


Grandparents’ Rights

Where I practice, grandparents have the right to petition the court for visitation and/or custody of their grandchild, if the parents are blocking access to the child and the court determines that it would be in the best interests of the child for the grandparent to have ongoing and consistent contact with the child.

In determining the best interests of the child, the court will take into consideration several factors but it is a high burden for the grandparent to prove as courts typically do not want to deny a parent’s fundamental right to the care, custody and control of a child.

The courts will typically not award custody unless the grandparent can show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the child is in potential or actual danger of suffering some harm from being with the parents.

Some examples that the court may consider in determining if a grandparent should be granted custodial time is if the parents are abusive to the child, if they are drug addicted and unable to care for the child and/or if they are unable to provide the child with basic needs such as shelter, food and clothing.

Read Related Article:

Grandparents’ Rights To Custody


In Loco Parentis

The other situation in which a family member could be awarded custody of a child is when they stand in loco parentis of the child. This means that the person is or has been acting as the child’s parent and essentially has taken the parents’ place in raising the child.

In a situation such as this, the court will award custody to the person who has been able to act in the parents’ stead and the court will allow them to have the custodial rights that are normally reserved for the biological parents.

The person who has been standing in loco parentis and has been awarded custody will then be able to do things such as enroll the child in school, make medical decisions for the child and make any other major decisions concerning the child’s health, safety and welfare.



If a situation does not fall into the above categories, the courts will not order that a parent must allow relatives to speak with a child and instead will leave it to the parents’ discretion as to who the child will have a relationship with and interact with.

Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult with divorce lawyers for men in your jurisdiction.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Philadelphia Divorce Lawyer Caroline J. Thompson, contact Cordell & Cordell.

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