Grandparents' Rights

Pittsburgh Grandparents Rights Lawyer

The traditional relationship between a grandparent and his or her grandchild provides an opportunity for closeness between the generations. When a couple separates or divorces, however, the relationship is often disrupted, as the courts must determine custody of the children and the visitation rights of the non-custodial parent. All too often, a grandparent who has already forged a bond with his or her grandchildren may be left out of a court order or settlement agreement. At Sweeney Law Offices, we have extensive experience handling grandparent suits in family court, and attempt to keep everyone's best interests in mind, especially those of a grandchild caught in the middle.

We will also fight as hard as we can for the most important people in your life - your children and grandchildren. We know they mean more to you than anything else, and if there is to be a custody dispute, you need the experience and tenacity of our attorneys on your side. Contact Sweeney Law Offices today to learn about your rights as a grandparent or a father in visitation, divorce, or custody matters.

In 1998, approximately 4,000,000 children or 5.6% of all children under age 18 lived in the household of their grandparents, according to the United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of Census Current Population Report. The 1999 census ranked Pennsylvania in the top 50 percent of states in percentage of children under 18 years of age living at their grandparents' house. In Allegheny County alone, over 18,700 children are living with their grandparents. Another 1,200 or more children are placed in the homes of their grandparents by the Office of Children, Youth and Families.

In Pennsylvania the law is clear when it comes to the rights of grandparents.

When a parent is deceased

If a parent of an unmarried child is deceased, the parents or grandparents of the deceased parent may be granted reasonable partial custody or visitation rights, or both, to the unmarried child by the court upon finding that partial custody or visitation rights, or both, would be in the best interest of the child and would not interfere with the parent-child relationship. The court shall consider the amount of personal contact between the parents or grandparents of the deceased parent and the child prior to the application.

When a parent's marriage is dissolved or parents are separated

In all proceedings for dissolution, subsequent to the commencement of the proceedings and continuing thereafter or when parents have been separated for six months or more, the court may, upon application of the parent or grandparent of a party, grant reasonable partial custody or visitation rights, or both, to the unmarried child if it finds that visitation rights or partial custody would be in the best interest of the child and would not interfere with the parent-child relationship. The court shall consider the amount of personal contact between the parents or grandparents of the party and the child prior to the application.

When child has resided with grandparents

If an unmarried child has resided with the grandparents or great-grandparents for a period of 12 months or more and is subsequently removed from the home by his or her parents, the grandparents or great-grandparents may petition the court for an order granting them reasonable partial custody or visitation rights, or both, to the child. The court 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.

Physical and legal custody

A grandparent has standing to bring a petition for physical and legal custody of a grandchild. If it is in the best interest of the child not to be in the custody of either parent and it is in the best interest of the child to be in the custody of the grandparent, the court may award physical and legal custody to the grandparent. The subsection applies to a grandparent:

  1. Who has 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 is substantially at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse or mental illness. The court may issue a temporary order pursuant to this section.

Grandparents raising grandchildren face significant obstacles in their role as "substitute parents." In addition to the social and economic challenges, grandparents must deal with a complicated set of legal issues when they do not have legal custody of the grandchildren they are raising. If you have questions and concerns regarding your legal rights as a grandparent, contact our Pennsylvania grandparents' rights attorney via email or phone us today at 724-390-4464 or 866-540-4180 Toll Free.

At Sweeney Law Offices we have helped grandparents throughout western Pennsylvania in matters involving child custody and visitation matters. Pittsburgh grandparents' rights attorney, Mildred B. Sweeney is well-known for her effective advocacy on behalf of grandparents who are also caregivers. Attorney Sweeney speaks to A.A.R.P. groups regarding grandparents' rights. We represent the legal rights and needs of grandparents who have become primary or occasional caregivers. Our Pittsburgh law office handles cases involving parents with drug abuse problems, parents in jail, or other forms of ineffectual parenting.

We are experienced in grandparents' rights issues including:

  • Guardianship subsidies
  • Respite care
  • Medical consent laws
  • Educational consent laws
  • De facto custodian laws
  • Standby guardianship laws

The family law attorneys at Sweeney Law Offices assist family members in a wide range of family law matters. We handle fathers' rights issues, adoption, divorce, divorce mediation, and juvenile law matters in western Pennsylvania. To discuss your legal concerns regarding custody, guardianship, and visitation matters, contact an experienced Pittsburgh grandparents' rights lawyer via email or call us today at 724-390-4464 or 866-540-4180 Toll Free.

Offices 20 minutes north of downtown Pittsburgh

Sweeney Law Offices Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania