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Grandparents able to seek custody of grandchildren in Pennsylvania

The dynamics of today's American family has transitioned to envelop a variety of different living situations. Although many traditional families still exist in Dauphin County, the term "traditional family" has grown to mean something entirely new. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that approximately 4.9 million children who are under the age of eighteen are currently living in households headed by grandparents, a substantial increase over the last decade. Not only are more grandparents faced with the responsibility of raising their grandchildren, but many states are making it easier for these grand "parents" to achieve legal custody of their grandchildren.


In many situations, grandparents are needed to fill the shoes of a parent and are the best candidates for the job. Most grandparents have an inherent love and acceptance of their grandchildren and can help them heal through the process of losing a parent. According to Pennsylvania legislation, grandparents are able to initiate the custody process if they willingly accept responsibility for the child and the relationship between the child and grandparent is positive and will contribute to the child's growth.


Under the terms described by the Pennsylvania Child Custody Act, grandparents have the right to obtain legal and physical custody of their grandchildren if they have acted in a parental role to the child, or if the relationship was initiated at the consent of the parent. If the grandparent wants to assume physical, financial and emotional responsibility of the child, they may do so under any of the following conditions:

  • The child is neglected or abused by their legal parent.
  • The parent with legal custody of the child is incapacitated due to alcohol or drug abuse issues.
  • The child has lived with the grandparent for at least twelve consecutive months.
  • The custodial parent of the child is deceased, and the grandparent seeking custody is the parent of the child's deceased parent.
  • The parents' of the child are involved in a divorce or have been separated for at least six months.

In each unique case, the Pennsylvania courts will make a determination and judgment based on the specific conditions of that case. Every case, however, will be judged with the child's best interest in mind.


Although the details of each case are unique, there may be several reasons for a grandparent to consider legally adopting their grandchild. As a legal guardian, you will have the ability to register your grandchild for school, get them insurance coverage, make important medical decisions and include them on your taxes.


If you are currently seeking legal or physical custody of your grandchild in Pennsylvania, it helps to have some professional assistance on your side. An experienced family law attorney can walk you through the arduous process of becoming a legal guardian of your grandchild. Partnering with a knowledgeable lawyer will help to bring optimal results from your case.