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Do grandparents have rights in a child custody case?

Interestingly enough, if you are a Pennsylvania grandparent seeking custody rights over your grandchild, you may have the law on your side in some cases. Indeed, a grandparent is permitted to file a court petition to try and obtain legal and physical custody of a grandchild.

Such a petition is pursuable if the grandparental relationship began with the parents' original consent and/or if it began by way of a court order. The child must also be at risk of neglect or abuse by the parent, or the grandparent must have served as the role as caretaker of the child for a year or more.

In certain cases, Pennsylvania courts might choose to provide the grandparents with custody of the child if it serves child's best interests not to be under the custody of his or her parents. Furthermore, in cases of parental separation of six months or longer, in cases of a pending divorce action and in situations where the child has lived with a grandparent for a year or more, grandparents have the right to seek visitation rights and/or partial custody of the child. This is also true in cases involving the parents of a deceased parent.

As in all matters that involve child custody and family law, Pennsylvania courts will always make their decisions based on the best interests of the child. If the grandparents being given partial custody, visitation rights or full custody could negatively interfere with child's relationship with his or her custodial parent, or if it could interfere with the child's best interests, then it may not be granted by the court.

If you are a grandparent seeking child custody of your grandchild, a Pennsylvania family law attorney will be able to help you evaluate your ability to achieve this goal.

Source: Pennsylvania Bar Association, "Child Custody," accessed Sep. 25, 2015

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