Grandparents enjoy special rights when it comes to visitation and physical custody of their grandchildren. Before filing for either type of custody/visitation, grandparents must first establish standing. Pennsylvania is among the states offering protection from lawsuits to intact families. In other words, if mom and dad are still together, grandparents cannot file for custody.
Grandparents may file for visitation only in specific circumstances: if the parent who is their child has died; if the parents are divorced; or if the parents have filed for divorce or have been separated for six months or more. In these circumstances, the court is instructed to consider the amount of personal contact that took place before the application.
In an additional scenario, if the child resided with the grandparent for twelve months or more and was removed from the grandparent’s home by parents, the court may award partial physical custody or supervised physical custody, but suit must be filed within six months after the removal.
In all the situations listed above, the court must consider whether visitation is in the child’s best interest and whether visitation with grandparents would interfere with the parent-child relationship. Great grandparents have the same rights as grandparents, and adoption terminates visitation rights unless the adopting party is a stepparent, grandparent or great-grandparent.