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Do grandparents have any custody rights over grandchildren?

In Pennsylvania, grandparents and great-grandparents have certain custodial rights, depending on the situation’s specifics. These rights are defined by a Pennsylvania statute, Title 23, Section 5325.

To pursue visitation rights, grandparents and great-grandparents usually must be able to show that they have a sufficient relationship with the child to warrant legal action.

The following outlines the situations in which grandparents and great-grandparents can file legal actions for custody under this statute.

When the parent is deceased

Pennsylvania law recognizes that it is essential for children to be able to maintain a relationship with their grandparents and great-grandparents in certain situations. In the event that a child’s parent dies, grandparents and great-grandparents can file for partial physical custody in court. They may also file for supervised physical custody, and, depending on the situation’s specifics, such as a child with two deceased parents, may have additional rights.

When the relationship began with consent or a court order

Suppose parents allowed grandparents or great-grandparents to have a relationship with the child or have court-ordered permission. In that case, this precedent helps support the grandparents’ rightsto file for partial or supervised physical custody. This situation typically applies when the child’s parents begin custody proceedings.

If the child’s parents do not agree on whether grandparents should have custody rights, the grandparents or great-grandparents can pursue legal action.

Grandparents can also seek custody or guardianship if the child’s parents cannot provide proper care or if abuse or neglect is present.

When a child lived with a grandparent or great-grandparent

If a child was consecutively living with the grandparents or great-grandparents for at least 12 months, with no significant breaks, they could not prevent the parents from removing the child from their home.

Pennsylvania law generally places grandparents’ rights second to the rights of the parents regarding child custody.

However, the grand or great-grandparents can, within six months of the child leaving their home, file legal action for partial or supervised physical custody of the child under Title 23, section 5325 of Pennsylvania’s statutes.

Navigating the complexities of grandparents’ custody rights can become complex. In all cases, the child’s best interests remain the main consideration.