Standing Up For An Important Relationship
The bond between a grandparent and a grandchild is a special one, spanning generations. When parents divorce or separate, courts make decisions about parenting time and custody. However, grandparents' rights are often overlooked during this process, leaving them out of the equation and upsetting this special relationship.
At Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC, located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, our family law attorneys provide zealous advocacy on behalf of grandparents asserting their visitation rights with grandchildren and on behalf of grandchildren seeking to have their special bond nourished through a continued relationship with a grandparent.
Grandparents' Custody Rights Under Pennsylvania Law
The first step in any custody case is to establish whether you, as a grandparent, have a right to bring a legal action for custody. Under the new custody law that took effect in January 2011, grandparents who stand in loco parentis (who stand in the shoes of a parent) have standing to pursue legal and primary physical custody if three criteria are met:
- If the relationship between the grandparent and grandchild began with the consent of the parent or under a court order
- The grandparent assumes or is willing to assume responsibility for the child
- And either (a) the child is deemed a dependent under the Juvenile Act and (b) the child is substantially at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse or incapacity OR (c) the child resided with the grandparent for at least 12 months (if the grandparent filed for custody within six months of removal).
If you do have standing to bring a custody case, then you must still prove that a change in custody is in the best interest of the child. Grandparents need an experienced custody attorney to fight for custody rights.
In addition, grandparents have standing to seek visitation (partial custody) in each of the following cases:
- A parent (the grandparent's child) is deceased
- The parents have been separated at least six months
- The child resided with the grandparent for 12 months (if the grandparent filed for custody within six months of removal)
Call Us For More Information
To discuss your legal rights as a grandparent with a knowledgeable and experienced Pennsylvania family law lawyer, contact Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC. We are skilled Harrisburg grandparents' rights attorneys who can ably represent your interests in trial if a resolution cannot be amicably achieved through negotiations or mediation. Call 717-695-8849.