Grandparents Custodial Rights

By Lee A. Schwartz, Attorney at Law

Published: July 17, 2004

Do grandparents have custodial rights in Pennsylvania? Can grandparents file for custodial time with the grandchildren independent of the parents of the minor child? How much time will a grandparent get with the minor child? Will it be the same amount of time as the parent would get?

Pennsylvania statutes indicate that grandparents may be granted reasonable custodial rights in the following circumstances:

  1. When parent deceased: If a parent of an unmarried child is deceased, the parents or grandparents of the deceased parent may be granted reasonable partial custody or visitation rights, or both, to the child by the court if it is found that the visitation is in the child’s best interest. The more contact the grandparents had with the child before the death of the parent, the more custodial time the grandparents will be given.
  2. When parents’ marriage is dissolved or parents are separated: After a divorce complaint has been filed by a parent or when parents have been separated for 6 months or more, the court may grant reasonable partial custody or visitation rights, or both, to the unmarried child if it is in the child’s best interest AND would not interfere with the parent-child relationship. Again, the court will consider the amount of contact between the grandparents and the child previous to the petition being filed.
  3. When child has resided with grandparents: If an unmarried child has resided with grandparents or great-grandparents for a period of 12 months or more and is subsequently removed from the home by the parents, the grandparents or great-grandparents may petition the court for partial custody or visitation or both. The best interests of the child will be considered and these rights will only be granted if the granting of the rights will not interfere with the parent-child relationship.

More and more, grandparents are filing for custodial rights and such petitions are being granted.

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