Do Grandparents Ever Get Involved with Child Custody Decisions During a Divorce?

The state of Pennsylvania has invested a tremendous amount of time and thought into crafting thoughtful laws regarding custody rights, and part of their consideration included grandparents. Grandparents are playing an increasingly important role in raising children, and where appropriate the courts have allowed them to be involved child custody decisions during a divorce, and even in having legal and physical custody where appropriate. As always, the court’s chief consideration focuses on what is in the child’s best interests.

When a divorce involves children, the court can assign several different types of physical custody, as well as legal custody. While legal custody specifically assigns the right to make decisions regarding religion, medical care, and education, physical custody refers to time spent with the child, and can be broken down into shared physical custody, primary physical custody, partial physical custody and sole physical custody, visitation is also available and provides the right to spend time with the child, but not to remove the child from the custodial parent’s control.

The court generally does everything that it can to encourage a child’s relationship with their extended family on both sides as long as it is safe and beneficial. For those grandparents who already have legal status that allows them to act as the child’s parent, involvement in the custodial decision takes on a different tenure, as that entitles them to request a continuation of that status. In most cases where a grandparent is willing to assume custody, either a parent’s consent is required or a court order. There are many situations that would warrant this type of arrangement, including instances where parents are abusive or neglectful or in some way incapacitated.  For grandparents to apply for custody they must be able to prove that they previously had the child residing with them for at least 12 consecutive months and then the parent removed them. In these cases, the filing must take place within half a year of the removal.

There are also other instances where a grandparent can request supervised or partial physical custody, including where they previously had the child living with them for a minimum of a year, the child’s parent is deceased, or where the parents have been separated or filed for divorce a minimum of six months earlier.

The one constant in all child custody cases in Pennsylvania is the state’s interest in what is in the child’s best interest. If you need assistance with a child custody issue, our compassionate attorneys are here to help. Contact us today!