In Pennsylvania, a parent of a child who is under 18 years old may file a complaint of custody with the county court in which there is jurisdiction of the child to a form of custody of the child, whether sole, primary or partial physical custody and sole or shared legal custody.  This right as also been extended to those who stepped into the shoes of a parent, such as a stepparent or a grandparent (what the court calls in loco parentis).  By assuming the role of parent, or In Loco Parentis, the third party must have actually acted as a parent to the child, such as providing financial assistance, providing food, shelter, clothing and assuming parental duties, with the permission of one or both parents.  At times, one or both parents may have asked the third Grandparents Now Have Expanded Rights to Obtain Sole or Primary Custody of Grandchildren, what is now new to Pennsylvania child custody law is the ability of grandparents who have not assumed a parenting role or performed parental duties for a grandchild (who are not “in loco parentis” to a grandchild) are now permitted to petition for all forms physical and legal custody of their grandchild in specific situations.  
One example is when the court has declared the grandchild to be a dependent child in a juvenile proceeding brought by a county children and youth agency.  Another situation is when the grandchild is at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol use, or incapacity.  A third situation exists when a grandchild has resided with grandparents for a period of at least 12 consecutive months and is then removed from that home by the parents. This expansion of grandparent rights clearly is a result of the growing problem where the children have no parents or the parents are unable or unwilling to step up and be responsible parents to their children.

Grandparents and great-grandparents may also have a right to petition a court for partial physical custody of a grandchild or great-grandchild The Pennsylvania Child Custody Statute defines “partial physical custody” as the right to assume physical custody of a child for less than a majority of the time.  Many times, this is usually referred to as visitation of partial physical custody.  When the parent of the grandchild or great-grandchild has died; where the parents have been separated for a period of at least six months or have filed for divorce; or when a grandchild or great-grandchild has lived with a grandparent or great-grandparent for at least a period of 12 consecutive months and is then removed from the home by the parent – grandparents or great-grandparents, as the case may be, have the right to ask a court to allow them to have partial physical custody of their grandchild or great-grandchild. The Law Office of Robin J. Gray has over 28 years of experience representing parents and grandparents regarding custodial rights of children.  If you have questions regarding the newly expanded custody law for Grandparents and other third parties, please contact Attorney Gray at (484) 769-5855 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Questions & Answers from Robin Gray

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