Grandparents' Custody Rights Lawyer Bucks County

Grandparents are permitted in Pennsylvania to file a petition for either full or partial custody of their grandchildren. The law has undergone changes in recent years. However, the verdict will still rest on what is in the best interests of the child. There are a number of factors the Court will consider before granting Grandparents Custody or Visitation Rights. Grandparents must prove that they have been acting as in loco parentis, which means that the child’s parents have given consent to the grandparents to act as the parents, including making everyday decisions on how to raise the child, or the grandparents must show that their relationship with the child began either with the parent’s consent or by court order.

The grandparents must assume or be willing to assume full responsibility for the child, and one of the following three things must be true of the child:

  • 1. The child has been determined to be dependent due to parental abuse or neglect;
  • 2. The child is substantially at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse, or incapacity;
  • 3. for a period of at least 12 consecutive months, the child has resided with the grandparent.
  • The statute allows for brief temporary absences of the child from the grandparent’s home. If the child is residing with the grandparent and is removed by his or her parent, the grandparent must file for custody within 6 months of removal of the child.

    Why Do I Need a Lawyer?

    The law has also changed for Grandparents seeking partial custody or visitation of their grandchildren. A grandparent may file for partial custody or visitation of a grandchild or great-children when: his or her child is deceased; the parents of the child have been separated for a period of at least 6 months or have commenced and continued Divorce proceedings; or the child has, for a period of at least 12 consecutive months, living with the grandparent or great-grandparent and has been removed from his or her home by the child’s parents. Again, brief temporary absences of the grandchild from the residence are excusable. This statute also says that if the child is residing with the grandparent or great-grandparent and is removed by his or her parent, the grandparent or great-grandparent must file for custody within 6 months of the child's removal. Although the court always takes into consideration the best interest of the child in determining whether to grant a petition, the statute no longer requires it to consider whether the visitation would affect the child’s relationship with his or her parent. That said, if the parents and grandparents have an irreparable relationship, the Court is less likely to grant custody or visitation rights to the grandparents.

    This content was written on behalf of Greg Prosmushkin.