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Custody Rights of Non-Biological Grandparents

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Non-biological grandparents possess the same rights as biological grandparents to seek visitation, partial custody or full custody in PA.

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

In a recent case in which I was involved, there was an issue before the court as to whether or not my clients, the adoptive grandparents, had a right to seek partial physical custody of the now separated adoptive parents' child.  The court properly held that my clients were entitled to receive partial physical custody of the child even though they were not the child's biological grandparents.

Under the law, the status of biological and a non-biological or adoptive grandparents under the Grandparent Custody and Visitation Act is equivalent.  (See link to article discussing this Act). Thus, a non-biological grandparent who is a parent to an adoptive parent to the child has standing to seek partial custody or visitation of the child under the Act.

Do Stepgrandparents possess the same rights?

Stepgrandparents do not have per se standing as such to seek custody or visitation under the Act.  However, nonbiological and non-adoptive grandparents who have taken care of the biological mother pursuant to a custody agreement with her parent stand in loco parentis to the biological mother, and therefore they are the parents of mother and the "grandparents" of the mother's child for purposes of the Grandparent Custody and Visitation Statute, and, as such, have standing to file a petition seeking visitation with their grandchild.  (See link to my prior article about this subject).

As you can see, seeking grandparent custodial rights is sometimes very tricky and difficult to parse out because the law can be unclear sometimes when we factor in multi-levels of relationships to the child(ren).  If you feel you are entitled to seek visitation, partial custody, or primary physical custody of a child because of a familial relationship, you should contact experienced counsel to discuss your matter.  You may contact Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC toll free or email us today.

1 Comment

My husband and I have legal custody/guardianship of his biological granddaughter. We have had her all but 2 months of her 3 years and 7 months. She is a special needs child with verbal at 12/18 months. The babys mother and father, whom were never married, have decided that they want him to adopt her but not me. I have been this childs mother for 3 1/2 years and she calls me mommy. If Mo law allows my husband can adopt her then all me to adopt but should something happen between he and I, I still have no rights as I understand it. I don't find any case law. looking to see if this situation exists any where else. I am willing to pursue a cause. At this point not really seeking legal advice only if someone has heard of the same situation.
So far my research shows no. Thank you

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