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When Can Grandparents Get Custody?

If you are a Pennsylvania grandparent who is concerned about the safety and/or welfare of your grandchild, you may be wondering if there is any way you can get custody of him or her. There is. Under Section 5324 of the Pennsylvania Code, you may file a petition seeking physical and/or legal custody of your grandchild if you are willing to assume responsibility for him or her and if your relationship with him or her is court-ordered or began with the consent of your grandchild’s parent(s). In addition, one of the following three conditions must be met:

  1. Your grandchild is substantially at risk living with his or her parent(s) because they abuse or neglect him or her and/or because they abuse alcohol or drugs.
  2. Your grandchild has lived with you for at least 12 months.
  3. Your grandchild has been declared a dependent child by a court.

Other grounds for seeking custody

Under Section 5325 of the Pennsylvania Code, you may file a petition seeking partial physical custody and/or supervised physical custody of your grandchild if his or her parents have started divorce proceedings or have been separated for at least six months.

Court considerations

A court takes numerous factors into consideration when deciding what is in the best interests of your grandchild. Chief among them is any present or past abuse and whether your grandchild faces a continuing risk of harm in his or her present living circumstances. The court also is interested in the child having a stable and continuing family life, community life and education. If the court feels that your grandchild is old enough to express a mature judgment, it will take his or her custody preferences into consideration. This information is provided for educational purposes, and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

For more information, contact Louis Wm. Martini, attorney at law.