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Legal Information: Pennsylvania


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December 15, 2023

I am the child's grandparent or great-grandparent. Can I get custody or visitation?

Anyone (including grandparents or great-grandparents) can file for any form of custody of the child if they meet the requirements in Who is entitled to seek custody?

In addition, grandparents and great-grandparents can file for visitation (known as partial physical custody or supervised physical custody)1 under one of the following conditions:

  1. If a child’s parent has died, a parent or grandparent of the deceased parent can file.
  2. If the child:
    • lived with the grandparent or great-grandparent for a period of at least 12 months in a row (not counting any brief temporary absences of the child from the home); and
    • was removed from the grandparent’s home by the parent(s). Note: In this case, the custody petition must be filed within six months after the child is removed from the grandparent’s home.
  3. If the relationship between the grandparent or great-grandparent and the child began with the consent of one of the parents or because of a court order, and now the parents of the child:
    • began a custody proceeding in court; and
    • do not agree as to whether the grandparents or great-grandparents should have custody.2

In ordering visitation (partial or supervised physical custody), the judge should consider the following:

  • the amount of personal contact between the child and the grandparent/great-grandparent before s/he filed the custody petition (but this doesn’t apply to the situation described in #3 above);
  • whether the partial or supervised custody would interfere with any parent-child relationship; and
  • whether it is in the best interest of the child.3

1 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 5322(b)
2 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 5325
3 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 5328(c)