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Grandparents that have raised a grandchild since birth may want to assert their custody rights after a divorce. The court will handle custody rights of grandparents in a similar way to those of parents, by determining what will be in the best interest of the child involved. If you are a grandparent and have not seen your grandchild due to a divorce, you may also be able to assert your rights.

Child Custody Act in Pennsylvania

In 2011, a new law was passed in Pennsylvania called the Child Custody Act. This broke down the rights that a grandparent has to be involved in the life of their grandchild. It also made note of what the court would examine if a claim for custody came from a grandparent.

A grandparent has a valid claim for custody if:

  • They have assumed a parent-child relationship outside of adoption;
  • The parent consents to grandparent custody with a court order;
  • The grandparent accepts responsibility for the child;
  • The child is a dependent;
  • The child is proven to be at risk in their current living situation; or
  • The child has resided with the grandparent for 12 consecutive months.

If a grandparent is seeking partial custody of a child, they may only do so if the parents are separated, divorcing, or if one parent is deceased. They can also pursue partial custody if a child has lived with a grandparent prior to recent events and has been forcefully removed by the parents.

Custody Granted to Grandparents

Like for custody arrangements with parents, a court will determine if a grandparent is eligible for custody, and if so, whether or not the custody arrangement is best for the child.

For partial custody agreements with a grandparent, the court will have to factor in the rights of the parent. Partial custody will depend on the best interest of the child, as well as whether the grandparent's custody would interfere with the relationship between the parent and child.

Great-grandparents are able to obtain custody with the same requirements as grandparents.

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