Grandparents Rights in PA – Everything You Need To Know 

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Can grandparents seek visitation or partial custody of their grandchildren?

Families take many different forms, sometimes having two parents, one parent, blended families, and many other combinations of adults and children who live together and call each other family. What’s most important is that there is a healthy and supportive living environment for all involved.

In some situations, it may be in the best interest of a child or children that their grandparents have full custody, rather than a parent or other relative. 

Understanding the definitions related to custody cases in Pennsylvania is important:

Legal custody. The right to make major decisions on behalf of the child, including, but not limited to, medical, religious and educational decisions

Partial physical custody. The right to assume physical custody of the child for less than a majority of the time.

Physical custody. The actual physical possession and control of a child.

Primary physical custody. The right to assume physical custody of the child for the majority of time.

Supervised physical custody. Custodial time during which an agency or an adult designated by the court or agreed upon by the parties monitors the interaction between the child and the individual with those rights.

There are two different ways under which grandparents can any form of physical or legal custody:

  • the grandparent’s relationship with the child began either with the consent of a parent of the child or under a court order;
  • who assumes or is willing to assume responsibility for the child; and
  • when one of the following conditions is met:
  1. the child has been determined to be a dependent child;
  2. the child is substantially at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse or incapacity; or
  3. 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.

A grandparent can also seek any form of custody if they can establish by clear and convincing evidence all of the following:

  • 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.
  • Neither parent has any form of care and control of the child.

Grandparents and great-grandparents can also seek partial physical custody or supervised physical custody in the following situations:

  • where the parent of the child is deceased, a parent or grandparent of the deceased parent may file an action under this section;
  • 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:
    • have commenced a proceeding for custody; and
    • do not agree as to whether the grandparents or great-grandparents should have custody under this section; or
  • 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.

How can grandparents get custody of their grandchildren in Pennsylvania? 

In order to get custody of a grandchild or grandchildren, a grandparent would have to file a custody petition in the county in which the child resides, if the child has resided there for the last six consecutive months. If the child has recently moved, the action may need to be filed in the county in which the child previously resided. To understand where and how to file for custody, it is best to speak to an experienced family law attorney who understands Pennsylvania custody law.

Effect of Adoption on Grandparent Visitation Rights 

When a child is adopted by an individual other than a stepparent, grandparent, or great-grandparent, any rights to seek physical custody or legal custody and any custody rights previously granted would be automatically terminated upon adoption. 

Adoption changes many aspects of custody and visitation rights among family members, especially if the adoption is to someone outside the family. Families who are navigating an adoption of a relative, and who are concerned about their custody or visitation rights should seek experienced legal counsel as early as possible.

 How Colgan and Associates can help you 

At Colgan and Associates, our team of trusted and respected family law attorneys have helped many individuals navigate the challenging circumstances of divorce and child custody in Pennsylvania. We are passionate about resolving conflict through mediation and working toward collaborative solutions that are in the best interest of all parties, especially children. 

If you or someone you know needs advice pertaining to divorce in Pennsylvania, especially child custody and grandparents rights, we urge you to call us today. We are available to speak with you regarding your matter, provide recommended actions, and help you resolve your matter quickly and fairly. Call us for your free phone consultation at 1-800-615-0115.

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