Grandparents’ rights can be an important, and sometimes complicated, concern for grandparents, parents and families. In Pennsylvania, if the mother and father of a child are married, then grandparents do not have any rights to custody. The situation may be different, however, if the mother and father of the child are not married.
Under Pennsylvania law, if the child’s parents are unmarried, grandparents enjoy a favored third party status above other relationships the child might have. Grandparents in those circumstances may be able to seek custody or visitation of their grandchild. Grandparents may have standing to seek custody or visitation if the parent that is the child of the grandparent has died; if the parents are divorce; or if the parents have filed for divorce or have been separated for 6 or more months. The court will evaluate the amount of personal contact the child had with the grandparents prior to when the request was made.
Additionally, if a child resides with the grandparents for a 12-month period and is removed from the grandparents’ home by the parents, the grandparents may be entitled to partial physical custody or supervised physical custody if they apply for custody within 6 months following the removal of the child. In any child custody situation, the court will evaluate what is in the best interests of the child and if the relationship with the grandparents will interfere with the child’s relationship with its parents.
Grandparents’ rights can be a challenging issue for families but a relationship with the child’s grandparents is generally viewed as in the best interests of the child. The family law process provides legal options to help families in all different types of situations and circumstances with the concerns that matter the most to them.