Grandparent Custody Rights in Pennsylvania

The 2011 Amendments to the Pennsylvania Custody Act provide the framework for when a grandparent may bring an action to obtain custody rights to their grandchildren. The Act sets forth certain requirements which must be met in order for a grandparent to sue for primary physical custody and partial physical custody.

Primary Custody

In order to sue for primary physical custody, a grandparent must show the following:

  1. The relationship with the child began with the consent of a parent or under a court order;
  2. The grandparent is willing to assume responsibility for the child; and
  3. One of the following three criteria:
    • The child has been adjudicated dependent
    • The child is substantially at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse or incapacity
    • The child previously resided with the grandparent for 12 consecutive months and the action is brought within 6 months of the child being removed from the grandparents

Partial Custody

Even if a grandparent does not have standing to bring an action for primary physical custody, another option is to bring an action for partial physical custody. In order to sue for partial physical custody, a grandparent must show one of the following:

  • A parent of the child is deceased and the grandparent is the parent of the deceased parent of the child
  • The parents of the child have been separated for at least six months or have started a divorce or annulment proceeding
  • The child previously resided with the grandparent for 12 consecutive months and the legal action is brought within 6 months of the child being removed from the grandparents

Contact a Local Custody Attorney

If you have a question regarding a grandparents’ custody rights issue, contact one of the custody lawyers at Trinity Law today. Our family law lawyers routinely handle Pennsylvania family law and grandparent custody matters in York, Lancaster and surrounding counties.