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Grandparents' Rights

Grandparents have the opportunity to petition the courts of Pennsylvania for custody or visitation of a minor grandchild.  A copy of the relevant grandparents' statute is set forth below:

23 Pa.C.S.A. 5313. When grandparents may petition

  (a) Partial custody and visitation. If an unmarried child has resided with his grandparents or great-grandparents for a period of 12 months or more and is subsequently removed from the home by his parents, the grandparents or great-grandparents may petition the court for an order granting them reasonable partial custody or visitation rights, or both, to the child. The court shall grant the petition if it finds that visitation rights would be in the best interest of the child and would not interfere with the parent-child relationship.

(b) Physical and legal custody. A grandparent has standing to bring a petition for physical and legal custody of a grandchild. If it is in the best interest of the child not to be in the custody of either parent and if it is in the best interest of the child to be in the custody of the grandparent, the court may award physical and legal custody to the grandparent. This subsection applies to a grandparent:

    (1) who has genuine care and concern for the child;

    (2) whose relationship with the child began with the   consent of a parent of the child or pursuant to an order of court; and

    (3) who for 12 months has assumed the role and responsibilities of the child's parent, providing for the physical, emotional and social needs of the child, or who assumes the responsibility for a child who has been determined to be a dependent child pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S.A. Ch.  63 (relating to juvenile matters) or who assumes or deems it necessary to assume responsibility for a child who is substantially at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse or mental illness. The court may issue a temporary order pursuant to this section.

Case law of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has set forth the following factors regarding Grandparents rights: 

Courts should consider all relevant factors and specific circumstances of the actual parties involved. Therefore, in determining a child's best interests, the trial judge may consider such factors as: (1) the amount of disruption
extensive visitation would cause in the child's life; (2) the suitability of the grandparents' home with respect to the amount of supervision received by the child; (3) the emotional ties between the child and the grandparents; (4) the moral fitness of the grandparents; (5) the distance between the child's home and the grandparents' home; (6) the potential for the grandparents to undermine the parent's general disciplining of the child as a result of visitation; (7) whether the grandparents are employed and the responsibilities associated with such employment; (8) the amount of hostility that exists between the parent and the grandparents; and (9) the willingness of the grandparents to accept the fundamental concept that the rearing of the child is the parent's responsibility and is not to be interfered with by the grandparents.

In addition, the trial court should determine whether the child's emotional health will benefit from re-establishment of the grandparent-child relationship. Was the grandparent  an important resource for the child in coping with the death of the parent? Other factors could include: (1) whether the child's performance in school suffered following the death of the parent; (2) whether the child has interests outside of school and home that would be advanced or supported by grandparent participation; (3) the closeness of the child to other members of the deceased parent's family and the opportunity to maintain that relationship without the presence of the grandparent in the child's life; and (4) the child's wishes.

To schedule an appointment regarding Grandparents' Rights, Divorce, Custody  or other family law related issues, please contact our office at 412-823-8003 or send an email to Karen Myers

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 Law Office of Karen L. Myers, P.C.  1751 Lincoln Highway, North Versailles, PA  15137 
Copyright 2007 Gregory T. Artim, Esq.  All Rights Reserved.     412-823-8003 or 1-888-536-6644 

Serving Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties, including Pittsburgh, North Versailles, North Huntingdon, Monroeville, Mckeesport, Clairton, Elizabeth, Turtle Creek, Pitcairn, Murrysville, Greenfield, Jeannette, Irwin, White Oak