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Rights where child has resided with grandparents or grandparent has assumed responsibility for child

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Grandparents may gain custody when they have been in loco parentis for 12 months or more.

By Attorney Jeffrey B. Engle, Grandparents Rights Attorney, Harrisburg, PA

I had previously written and article about step-grandparents and their custody rights.  The very same is true for natural grandparents or great-grandparents of a child.

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 will 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.  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.

When do these provisions apply:

These provisions apply 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 the statutory provisions 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.

Moreover, where the grandchild lived with the grandparents for at least 12 months, a grandparent's visitation rights need not be asserted within any specific period after the child is removed from the grandparents.  The Grandparent Custody And Visitation Statute specifically and automatically confers standing upon a grandparent of a child previously adjudicated dependent to file a complaint for the child's custody. 

If you are a grandparent or great-grandparent and want to explore your rights to seek partial custody or visitation, you should contact the experienced grandparents' rights attorneys at Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC toll free or email us today

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