Do Grandparents Have Custody Rights?
Yes, in some custody cases in Pennsylvania, grandparents do have custody rights. One way that Pennsylvania law allows a grandparent to file for any form of physical or legal custody is if a grandparent has acted in the place of a parent to the child.
Alternatively, a grandparent can file for any form of legal or physical custody if all of the following conditions exist:
(1) the relationship with the child began either with the consent of a parent of the child or under a court order;
(2) the grandparent assumes or is willing to assume responsibility for the child; and
(3) when one of the following conditions is met:
(i) the child has been determined to be a dependent child;
(ii) the child is substantially at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse or incapacity; or
(iii) the child has, for a period of at least 12 consecutive months, resided with the grandparent, excluding brief temporary absences of the child from the home, and is removed from the home by the parents, in which case the action must be filed within six months after the removal of the child from the home.
Additionally, a grandparent can file for custody if the grandparent can establish all of the following: that the grandparent has assumed or is willing to assume responsibility for the child, the grandparent has a sustained, substantial and sincere interest in the welfare of the child, and that neither parent has any form of care and control of the child.
If the above-listed situations do not apply, a grandparent or great-grandparent may also file a custody action for visitation rights in the following situations:
(1) where the parent of the child is deceased, a parent or grandparent of the deceased parent may file a custody action;
(2) where the relationship with the child began either with the consent of a parent of the child or under a court order and where the parents of the child:
(i) have commenced a proceeding for custody; and
(ii) do not agree as to whether the grandparents or great-grandparents should have custody under this section; or
(iii) when the child has, for a period of at least 12 consecutive months, resided with the grandparent or great-grandparent, excluding brief temporary absences of the child from the home, and is removed from the home by the parents, an action must be filed within six months after the removal of the child from the home.
It is important to note that while a grandparent may have the ability to file for custody, each case is different. The standard for custody cases will always be what is in the best interest of the child.
These cases can be very complex, and it is important that you speak with an experienced attorney to talk about your specific situation. If you have more questions regarding custody rights to your grandchild, please set-up a consult with one of our skilled family law attorneys at Lancaster Law Group, LLC.