In most households, children are raised by one or two parents. Divorces, remarriages, job transfers, and all kinds of other situations can complicate things, but direct parents are usually the ones who take care of kids.
However, grandparents have a strong interest in their children's children, too, and sometimes they need to assert their interest for the sake of their relationship and for the sake of their grandchildren. Most of the time this doesn't go beyond talking with their adult children and arranging visits, but there are times when grandparents need to get the legal system involved.
- Death in the family. If one parent passes on, the other can sometimes neglect the dead parent's family. There are a dozen reasons why, and while some of them are mean-spirited, others are not. Either way, if the parents on the other side of the family want to keep in touch with their grandchildren and sending requests isn't enough, they may be able to get help from the courts. If both parents pass away, the grandparents could take custody of the children and will need the help of the courts to do so.
- Divorce. Even if one parent loses custody completely, that parent's family can still remain involved in the lives of their grandchildren. However, taking this action must wait for at least six months following a divorce or legal separation.
- The grandparents are caring for the child. It's hard to hear, but some people aren't fit to be parents and not every parent stays that way for 18 years. In cases of abandonment, abuse, neglect, and other situations, children can end up living with their grandparents for long periods of time. If a parent tries to get his or her children back before making the changes needed to become a fit parent, and if the children have been living with their grandparents for 12 months or more (or are at risk of abuse or harm), the grandparents can demand partial or full custody.
Americans tend to think in terms of the nuclear family, the parents and children alone, but families can be a lot bigger than that. If a child's grandparents feel like they are being left out or like they need to involve themselves, the state of Pennsylvania and family attorneys can help them.