In many states, grandparents don’t have strong visitation or custody rights. While they are related to their grandchildren, the law generally protects the parents and makes sure that they have control over who sees their children. This can be at the expense of the child’s relationship with their grandparent or grandparents.

There are exceptions to every rule, though, and Pennsylvania is a state that does understand strong bonds between grandparents and their grandchildren. Did you know that the PA statute of grandparents’ rights does allow grandparents to seek legal and physical custody of a grandchild? There are a few things that must happen first, though.

The court may decide to grant visitation if one of your grandchildren’s parents have passed away or if their parents have been separate or divorced for over six months. You can also petition for custody if your grandchild has lived with you for 12 months or longer.

Remember, the court always wants to do what is in the best interests of your grandchildren. The judge will need to consider if giving you custody or visitation would have a negative impact on the parent-child relationship. The judge will have to also consider your history with your grandchildren and the relationship you’ve had in the past. You cannot petition for visitation or custody of a grandchild who has been adopted, unless that grandchild has been adopted by another grandparent or by a stepparent.

Our website has more information on seeking custody or visitation with your grandchild and what to expect as you petition the court for these rights.