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GRANDPARENTS – PARTIAL CUSTODY OR VISITATION

What happens if one parent dies?

If a parent of an unmarried child is deceased, the parents or grandparents of the deceased parent may be granted reasonable partial custody or visitation rights, or both, to the unmarried child by the court upon a finding that partial custody or visitation rights, or both, would be in the best interest of the child and would not interfere with the parent-child relationship. The court must consider the amount of personal contact between the parents or grandparents of the deceased parent and the child prior to the application. 23 Pa.C.S.A. Section 5311.

 

Do grandparents have any right to see their grandchild(ren) if the parents of the child(ren) divorce?

In all proceedings for dissolution of a marriage (divorce or annulment), subsequent to the commencement of the proceeding and continuing thereafter or when the parents have been separated for six months or more, the court may, upon application of the parent or grandparent of a party, grant reasonable partial custody or visitation rights, or both, to the unmarried child if it finds that visitation rights or partial custody, or both, would be in the best interest of the child and would not interfere with the parent-child relationship. Again, the court must consider the amount of personal contact between the parents or grandparents of the party and the child prior to the application. 23 Pa.C.S.A. Section 5312.

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Under what other circumstances may grandparents petition the court for visitation, partial custody or physical and legal custody?

Partial custody and visitation. -- If an unmarried child has lived 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.

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 section of the law 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 of a child who has been determined to be a dependent child pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S. Chapter 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.

None of the above relating to visitation or custody by the grandparents shall apply if the child has been adopted by a person other than a stepparent or grandparent. Any visitation rights granted in any of the above cases prior to the adoption of the child will be automatically terminated upon such adoption. 23 Pa.C.S.A. Section 5314.

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