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Grandparents’ Rights

Custody & Visitation Rights

In Pennsylvania, grandparents may petition the court for visitation or custody of their grandchildren if they can show they have a substantial relationship with the grandchildren, and visitation or custody is in the best interests of the children.

To show that they have a substantial relationship with the grandchildren, grandparents must be able to prove that they have had regular contact with the children and that they have been an important part of their lives. Working with an experienced child custody attorney to bring forth the right evidence is important to putting your best foot forward.

Related Child Custody Review: “I retained Inna’s services for a difficult custody battle. Inna is the ultimate advocate for her clients and instills a deep level of confidence in both her clients and their families/support systems.”

If you are a grandparent who is considering petitioning for visitation or custody of your grandchildren, it is important to speak to an experienced family law attorney. An attorney can help you understand your legal rights and ensure your family’s circumstances are properly represented in court.

Our Montgomery County family law firm represents grandparents seeking custody or visitation with grandchildren. Our law firm also accepts child custody matters in Bucks, Chester, and Philadelphia counties. Firm founder Inna Materese is an experienced family law attorney and has presented on a wide range of family law topics, including “Dysfunctional” Family Law (2021) and Third Parties in Custody Cases (2020).

Pennsylvania Child Custody Law, Grandparents’ Custody Rights & Visitation Rights

When Can a Grandparent Seek Custody of Grandchildren?

Pennsylvania’s child custody law gives standing so that grandparents may seek physical custody or legal custody. This includes joint custody or full custody.

Section 5324 of the Domestic Relations Act lays out the situations in which a grandparent may seek custody.

If the grandparent already stands in loco parentis (i.e., already acts as a parent), the grandparent may seek custody.

If the grandparent has a relationship with the child which began with consent of a parent or under court order, the grandparent is willing to assume responsibility for the child, and one of the following apply:

• the child is determined to be dependent,
• the child faces a substantial risk of abuse, neglect, etc., or
• the child has resided with the grandparent for 1 year (12 consecutive months) and is removed from the home by the parents. In this situation, the action must be filed within 6 months from the date of removal.

Pennsylvania Child Custody Law, Grandparents’ Right to Visitation (AKA Partial Physical Custody)

In some cases, a grandparent may seek visitation (partial physical custody) with grandchildren. Pennsylvania child custody law, 23 Pa. C.S. § 5325, specifically allows grandparents to seek visitation in any of the following situations:

1. the parent is deceased,
2. the parents are currently involved in a custody proceeding and do not agree about whether the grandparents should have custody rights, so long as the relationship between the child and grandparents began with consent of a parent or under a court order, or
3. the child has previously resided with the grandparent for a minimum of 1 year (12 consecutive months) and is removed from the home by the parents. *An action must be filed within 6 months from the date of removal.

Our Montgomery County family law firm handles child custody matters across the county including: Ambler, Blue Bell, Collegeville, Fort Washington, Jenkintown, King of Prussia, Lansdale, Oreland, Plymouth Meeting, Willow Grove, as well as the Main Line areas of Ardmore, Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Merion, and Narberth. Clients also accepted in Bucks County, Chester County, and Philadelphia. 

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