Written by attorney L. Anthony Bompiani

Do Grandparents Have Custody Rights in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania law provides that the grandparents of a minor child do have legal standing to bring a custody action against the parents of the minor child, but only in certain circumstances.

Specifically, a grandparent may be entitled to PARTIAL CUSTODY ( AND VISITATION if the child has resided with his/her grandparents for a period of 12 months or more and is subsequently removed from the home by his/her parents. In that situation, the grandparents may petition the court for an order granting them reasonable partial custody or visitation rights, or both, to the child. The court then shall grant the petition if it finds that visitation rights would be in the best interest of the child and would not interfere with the parent-child relationship. Additionally, a court may award PHYSICAL AND LEGAL CUSTODY to the grandparents, if it is in the best interest of the child not to be in the custody of either parent, and if it is in the best interest of the child to be in the custody of the grandparent. However, this only applies to a grandparent:

  1. Who has a genuine care and concern for the child;

  2. Whose relationship with the child began with the consent of a parent of the child or pursuant to an order of court; and

  3. Who for 12 months has assumed the role and responsibilities of the child's parent, providing for the physical, emotional and social needs of the child, or who assumes the responsibility for a child who has been determined to be a dependent child (relating to juvenile matters), or who assumes or deems it necessary to assume responsibility for a child who is substantially at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse or mental illness.

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