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Grandparents in Custody Matters- Why We Need Them

Grandparents hold a special bond with grandchildren.


Pennsylvania recognizes the critical role that grandparents play in the lives of many grandchildren throughout the Commonwealth. We provide for grandparents to petition the court to seek any form of physical or legal custody of a grandchild when certain facts are in existence. These are a few of my firm's observations in dealing with grandparent custody cases over the past 20 years.

Grandparents are special to children and a schedule should be kept:

  1. They are the person in a child's life that would listen and understand when no one else would.
  2. They often can take the place of many parents that have been unable or unwilling to assume their role as a parent because of age, immaturity, use of drugs or alcohol, lack of full-time employment, consistent housing, or because the parent is pursuing an education.
  3. Grandparents provide a source of stability and wisdom to their grandchildren.

Things to avoid:

  1. Grandparents have to be cautious, however, otherwise they appear to be interfering with the parent/child relationship if they come across too critical, overly-eager to assist, or combative. Grandparents shouldn't provoke fights with parents. Grandchildren certainly shouldn't ever be put in the middle of the fight and be permitted to overhear the discussions. You may have to bite your tongue.
  2. Breaking a schedule. If there's a schedule with a grandparent- keep it! Grandparents need to have routine involvement with their grandchild(ren) to better communicate with them and recognize signs that the granchild(ren) are having difficulties in school, home, or elsewhere. This will reaffirm for the grandchild that they are loved and special.
  3. Allowing themselves to be "pushed out." There's a delicate balance between being overly critical of a parent and knowing when to assert your rights to be with your grandchild(ren). The grandchild(ren) should never suffer because of the lack of someone who loves them.