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Child Custody for Grandparents in Pennsylvania

In 2010, a law was passed that gave grandparents the right to file for custody of their grandchildren under certain circumstances (e.g. if a parent is deceased, if the parents are separated, or if the child has lived with the grandparents for at least twelve (12) consecutive months).

Since the law went into effect, many cases have been filed by grandparents where the parents of the child have separated. This is no longer the case.

On September 9, 2015, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the case of D.P. and B.P. v. G.J.P. and A.P. (grandparents against their son and daughter-in-law) held that simply because parents separate, grandparents do not have the right to file for custody of their grandchildren. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that the part of the custody statute that permitted grandparents to file a custody action for their grandchildren based solely on the fact that the parents had separated, was unconstitutional.

However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court also held that if the parents actually file for divorce, the grandparents can file a custody action to see their grandchild(ren).

Simply put, if the parents are separated, but have not filed for divorce, the grandparents cannot file an action in custody for their grandchild.

Once a divorce action is filed in Court by one of the separated parents, the grandparents are now free to file a custody action to try to obtain an Order to see their grandchild(ren).

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