Grandparent Rights in Pennsylvania

Legislation enacted at the end of last year amended the child custody statutes in Pennsylvania. Included in the legislation was a new section 5324 (23 Pa.C.S. Section 5324) relating to who has standing to seek any form of physical or legal custody of a child in Pennsylvania. Section 5324 indicates that a grandparent has standing to seek physical or legal custody of a child if three conditions are met: (1) the grandparent's relationship with the child began either with the consent of a parent of the child, or under a court order; (2) the grandparent assumes or is willing to assume responsibility for the child; and (3) one of the following 3 conditions is met: (a) the child is a "dependent" child as defined by 42 Pa.C.S. 6302; or, (b) the child is substantially at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse or incapacity; or (c) the child has lived with the grandparent for at least 12 consecutive months (excluding brief temporary absences of the child from the home) and the child is removed from the home by the parents, in which case the action must be filed within 6 months after the removal of the child from the home.

Also included in the legislation was a new section 5325 (23 Pa.C.S. Section 5325) relating to the right of grandparents and great-grandparents to file an action for partial physical custody or supervised physical custody of a child.

Where the parent of a child is deceased, a parent or grandparent of the deceased parent may file an action for partial or supervised physical custody.

Where the parents of the child have been separated for a period of at least six months, or have commenced and continued a divorce proceeding, a grandparent or great-grandparent may file an action for partial or supervised physical custody.

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 the child is removed from the home by the parents, an action must be filed by the grandparent or great-grandparent within six months after the removal of the child from the home.

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