Custody Rights of Grandparents

Child Custody Rights of Grandparents

In child custody matters the best interest of the child is the paramount consideration by the Court.  That may mean the child spends more time or no time with dad or mom.  It may also mean that the grandparents of that child receive court-ordered partial or even sole physical and legal custody. So, depending on the circumstances, child custody rights of grandparents are recognized in Pennsylvania.

Under Pennsylvania law, grandparents have the legal standing to institute custody proceedings but only in limited circumstances.  Grandparents don’t have legal standing to pursue custody if the child is part of an intact family and the child is not at risk.  In other words, there is probably no legal standing to institute custody proceedings if:

  • The parents are living together with the child;
  • The child is not dependent under juvenile law;
  • There is no parental abuse or neglect;
  • There is no exposure to drug or alcohol abuse;
  • Or, the parents are not incapacitated.

In those circumstances where grandparents do have standing to pursue custody, the Court may still deny the request for custody if it is not in the best interest of the child.  If for instance the custody request is deemed excessive or burdensome, interferes with the parent-child relationship or negatively affects the parents, the Court may deny the request.  The parents of the child can also influence the Court’s determination as a parent’s decisions regarding partial or supervised custody receives special weight.  The Court may, however, still grant custody to the grandparents over the parents’ objections.

As you can see, child custody in Pennsylvania is full of nuances. This is especially true when it comes to custody rights of grandparents. So, please give is a call with any questions or concerns.


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