The important relationship between a Grandparent and his or her grandchild is a relationship that is protected by Pennsylvania law. The Pennsylvania legislature extends standing in specific circumstances for Grandparents to petition the court for custody of their grandchildren.
The standing provided to Grandparents, is only granted where that grandparent meets statutory requirements, as opposed to a natural parent who has automatic standing to initiate a custody action with the court. The requirements that must be met by Grandparents who choose to petition the court for custody are as follows:
The Grandparent's relationship with the child began either with the consent of one of the child's parents or by court order;
The grandparent is willing to assume responsibility for the child;
and One of the following conditions is met: the child has been adjudicated dependent by the court, the child is at risk of neglect, incapacity, or drug/alcohol abuse, or the child has resided with the grandparent for a period of 12 consecutive months and was removed from the grandparent's home by the child's parent(s). If a petition is brought by grandparents due to a parent's removal of the child from the home, the petition must be filed within six months of the date of removal.
Pennsylvania provides additional circumstances granting standing to grandparents to petition the court for partial physical custody. These circumstances are as follows:
The grandparent's child (the parent of the child in question) is deceased, or
The parents of the child have been separated for 6 months, or have filed a divorce complaint.
If you are a Grandparent seeking custody rights for your grandchildren, call our office today to discuss your options!