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Grandparents’ Rights Attorneys in Harrisburg

Providing Caring & Capable Representation Since 1951

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, our family law attorneys in Harrisburg 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.

Call (717) 268-4287 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with our grandparents’ rights lawyers in Harrisburg.

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.

These criteria include:

  • If the relationship between the grandparent and grandchild began with the consent of the parent or through a court order
  • The grandparent wishes to assume, or already assumes, responsibility for the child
  • And either (a) the child is deemed a dependent under the Juvenile Act and (b) the child is significantly at risk due to parental alcohol or drug abuse, incapacity, neglect, or abuse OR (c) the child resided with the grandparent for a minimum of 12 months (if the grandparent filed for custody within 6 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 for at least six months
  • The child resided with the grandparent for 12 months (if the grandparent filed for custody within six months of removal)

Do Step Grandparents have rights?

A step-grandparent or 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 step-grandparent, the court may award physical and legal custody to the step-grandparent. These provisions apply to a grandparent or a step-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.

The court may issue a temporary order pursuant to this section.

Call (717) 268-4287 for a Free Consultation

To discuss your legal rights as a grandparent with a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney, contact Shaffer & Engle. 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) 268-4287.

What Our
clients Have to Say

  • Jeff is very up front about his experience, results and belief in the success or possible issues with your case.

    “From the minute you call Jeff Engle's office, you are treated with first class respect and service. Jeff is very up front about his experience, results and belief in the success or possible issues with your case. From the time of retainment, Jeff's use of electronic forms of communication keep you up to date to the minute whenever there are developments and progress in your case. This type of communication is nearly unheard of in ANY proffession. Many times, I knew that Jeff was taking his personal time to communicate with me. Jeff presents himself as a very knowledgeable and able attorney with sincere personal interest in the success of your case. During times of uncertainty, having someone of Jeff's demeanor at your side will simply make you feel that no matter what the outcome may be, he is right there with you. There was not one time during the course of my case that I felt Jeff was not thoughful and prepared for. I cannot say enough for the level of professionalism this man presents while representing you as a client.”

    Kevin

  • His knowledge and planning has delivered desired results.

    “Jeff's advice is accurate. His knowledge and planning has delivered desired results. His responses and communications are above expectations. Everyone at Shaffer and Engle law are very helpful. I am glad to have met Jeff and his team. Thanks for your Help.”

    Curtis

  • Jeff presents himself as a very knowledgeable and able attorney with sincere personal interest in the success of your case.

    “From the minute you call Jeff Engle's office, you are treated with first class respect and service. Jeff is very up front about his experience, results and belief in the success or possible issues with your case. From the time of retainment, Jeff's use of electronic forms of communication keep you up to date to the minute whenever there are developments and progress in your case. This type of communication is nearly unheard of in ANY profession. Many times, I knew that Jeff was taking his personal time to communicate with me. Jeff presents himself as a very knowledgeable and able attorney with sincere personal interest in the success of your case. During times of uncertainty, having someone of Jeff's demeanor at your side will simply make you feel that no matter what the outcome may be, he is right there with you. There was not one time during the course of my case that I felt Jeff was not thoughtful and prepared for. I cannot say enough for the level of professionalism this man presents while representing you as a client.”

    Kevin

  • He took the time to explain the process, understand the facts of my case and provide suggestions like retaining a private investigator.

    “I came to Shaffer & Engle Law Offices searching for hope after I entered a plea in my criminal case. I had a false allegation filed against me for a sexual offense that I did not commit. I was involved with another lawyer for 2 ½ years, when it came down to day before court we felt he was not prepared to represent me. I either took the plea of "Nolo Contendere" or went to jail the day of the trial. I felt trapped. I had this allegation against me and I was innocent. I met with the Attorney Engle. He took the time to explain the process, understand the facts of my case and provide suggestions like retaining a private investigator. He offered to represent me and quickly moved to withdraw my guilty plea. That was granted by the court and we proceeded to prepare for trial. They uncovered many things that our other lawyer did not bother to investigate. They met with character witnesses after hours to make sure my defense would be solid. Long story short, the DA in my case withdrew the charges. I went from a convicted man to completely being vindicated. Shaffer and Engle Law Offices also were able to assist me in another matter relating to the criminal case, but in civil court. The same results, all charges were dismissed. I appreciate the work they did, their prompt service, care and attention they showed to me and my family. I found their services to be affordable when compared to what they did for me. I would highly recommend them for anyone charged with a crime that they did not do.”

    JH

  • You really did make a "federal case" of my situation!

    “You are the best! I can't express how upset I was when I discovered that my builder committed fraud and lied to me about the quality and condition of my new house. It was a huge investment for me and he put me in a bad financial situation. I was cautiously hopeful when you told me you could help. When you got me a judgment for $130,000 plus- three times the amount of my damages- I was amazed! Thanks so much for all of your hard work and dedication. You really did make a "federal case" of my situation! With the money you won for me, I can finally enjoy my home.”

    P.P.