Grandparent and Third Party Visitation and Custody

Under certain circumstances, Pennsylvania law will allow a grandparent or third party to petition the court for an award of legal and/or physical custody. The requirements for a grandparent or third party to have standing to pursue custody are very specific depending upon the type of custody sought. The attorneys at Shemtob Draganosky Taylor, are well-versed in pursuing custody rights on behalf of grandparents and third parties.

Grandparent Custody and Visitation

In Pennsylvania, a grandparent of a child can bring an action for any form of custody (primary, partial, visitation, etc.) when the following occur: the grandparent’s relationship with the child began either with the consent of a parent of the child or under a court order, the grandparent assumes or is willing to assume responsibility for the child and either: (1) the child has been determined to be a dependent child under Pennsylvania law; or (2) the child is substantially at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse or incapacity; or (3) the child has, for a period of at least 12 consecutive months, resided with the grandparent.

In addition, grandparents and great-grandparents may file an action for partial physical custody or supervised physical custody in the following situations: (1)  where the parent of the child is deceased; (2)  where the parents of the child have been separated for a period of at least six months or have commenced and continued a proceeding to dissolve their marriage; or (3) when the child has, for a period of at least 12 consecutive months, resided with the grandparent or great-grandparent, excluding brief temporary absences of the child from the home, and is removed from the home by the parents. An action must be filed within six months after the removal of the child from the home.

Once a grandparent or great-grandparent files an action for custody, a family court judge will analyze a host of factors in crafting an appropriate custody order, including the parent’s/grandparent’s ability to appropriately care for the child, provide for the child’s physical, educational and emotional needs; who has provided parental duties for the child; any history of drug or alcohol abuse; and several other factors.

Third Party Custody and Visitation

A third party can bring an action for any form of custody when the following occur: (1) the individual has assumed or is willing to assume responsibility for the child; (2) the individual has a sustained, substantial and sincere interest in the welfare of the child (considering, among other factors, the nature, quality, extent and length of the involvement by the individual in the child’s life); and (3) neither parent has any form of care and control of the child.  However, third parties may not have these rights if a dependency proceeding involving the child has been initiated.

At Shemtob Draganosky Taylor, we recognize every grandparent custody case stands on its own. Contact us to learn how we can help with your Pennsylvania grandparent child custody or visitation case.

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