November 17, 2012

Grandparent Rights and Updates in Pennsylvania

Grandparent Rights under Pennsylvania Custody and Grandparents’ Visitation Act


Pennsylvania has more defined rules for the care of children. It has placed the Grandparent Rights into another platform by the passage of a new law which took effect on January 22, 1011. The new law makes changes to the current child custody law, The Pennsylvania Custody and Grandparents’ Visitation Act, 23 Pa.  Cons. Stat. section 5301 et seq. (2007) have placed emphasis on Grandparent Rights over children which are recognized as equally important with biological parent’s rights.

The grandparent rights were elucidated in the case of Hiller v. Fausey (2006) when the court ruled that the Pennsylvania Grandparent Visitation Statues are constitutional. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the grandmother who filed a petition in Court for partial custody after the death of her daughter (child’s mother). Under the law, grandparents can petition the court for visitation rights and custody of children under the following conditions:

(1) when one or both parents are dead; or

(2) when parents have separated for more than six (6) months or declared divorced; or

(3) when the child has resided with the grandparent for 12 months or more.

In addition, a grandparent can also petition the court for custody rights of minor grandchildren if the grandparent was for sometime acted “in loco parentis” providing financial, educational and emotional support to the minor.

The “best interest” and “safety” of the child

Above all things, the Pennsylvania courts will have to consider the “best interest” of the child before taking any action that could affect the well being and development of the child. This includes the physical, moral, emotional, and spiritual aspects of the child as the main criteria. In deciding the issue of custody or visitation rights, the court will also consider the genuine commitment of the grandparent to take care of the child and the provisions on education, religion, and health care of the child.


In addition, the new law requires the court to give considerable weight on factors that will affect the “safety” of the child. The court will consider the established relationship between the child and grandparent or great-grandparent or the time they have spent together, the choice of the child and the willingness of the biological parents to share custody of the child.  It is also the court’s responsibility to see to it that the grandparent rights (if granted) will not interfere with the parent and child relationship.

Grandparent rights for child custody

Grandparent Rights for child custody can only be granted under specified circumstances by virtue of a court order or through parental negotiation as well as the  willingness of the grandparent to assume the responsibility to care for the child. Provided, the conditions exist to warrant custodial and visitorial rights of the child like: (1) the child is a dependent child; (2) the child is substantially at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse or incapacity, or (3) the child has lived with the grandparent for at least 12 consecutive months before the child is removed from custody.


When you need an attorney to represent you with your legal matter such as Grandparent’s rights, contact the Law Offices of Michael Kuldiner, P.C. in order to obtain the best results possible in each case. To arrange a consultation, please give us a call at (215) 942-2100 or contact us by submitting the form at top right.