I often receive calls from concerned grandparents curious as to what “grandparent’s rights” are in Pennsylvania as it concerns to custody of their grandchildren. Pennsylvania law on the matter seems to be ever changing.
Prior to 2016, grandparents could seek custody when parents of the child had been separated for at least 6 months. In September, 2016, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that grandparents could no longer use the 6 months of separation clause as a reason to file for custody of their grandchildren.
Pennsylvania law distinguishes who may file for custody into 2 categories:
- “Standing for any form of physical or legal custody” (which generally means the ability to file for primary custody) and;
- “Standing for partial physical custody or supervised physical custody”.
With regard to filing for any form of physical or legal custody, a grandparent may file for custody where their relationship began with the consent of one of the parents, they are willing to assume responsibility for the child, and where the child has been determined to be a dependent as it relates to juvenile matters, that the child is at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, or drug or alcohol abuse; or the child has resided with the grandparent for a period of at least 12 consecutive months.
In addition to those situations set forth above, Pennsylvania law also allows for grandparents to file for partial physical custody in certain situations. These situations include: where the parent of the child is deceased; where the relationship with the child began with the consent of a parent or under court order and where the parents of the child have commenced a proceeding for custody and they do not agree as to whether grandparents or great grandparents should have custody under this section.
Deciding whether a grandparent meets one of these requirements is not often easy to do without the help of a grandparent custody attorney. If you or a loved one need help deciding whether you have standing to file for custody in Lancaster, PA, hire an experienced Lancaster, PA grandparent rights attorney today.