Legal Words of Wisdom: Grandparents' Custody Rights

Rodney Warner, Esq
Legal Clinic for the Disabled, Inc.
Last Modified: February 19, 2010

In some circumstances, a grandparent can be awarded partial custody or visitation rights for a grandchild. Such a right could be exercised when,

Rodney Warner, Esq
  • The court finds it is in the best interests of the grandchild,
  • A birth parent is deceased,
  • The parents are divorced, or have been separated for six or more months (if they never married), or
  • When the grandchild lived with the grandparent for 12 or more months, then was removed by a parent.

In extreme circumstances, the grandparent may be granted full physical and legal custody. The grandparent would have to show,

  • It is in the best interest of the grandchild,
  • The grandparent has genuine care and concern for the grandchild,
  • The grandparent must have assumed the role of a parent for at least a year, or
  • It's been determined the grandchild lacks proper parental care, or
  • There is parental abuse, neglect, substance abuse or mental illness.

Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania has a pamphlet about grandparent's rights in Pennsylvania. Check with other legal resources for information specific to your state.

Blogs

Grandparents’ Custody Rights
by Rodney Warner, JD
February 19, 2010

An Extra Smile
by Donna-Lee Lista
November 3, 2011

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