While most people agree that children do better if they live with at least one of their biological parents, there are always exceptions to the rule. If the parent is abusive or addicted to drugs, for example, it is not the best possible place for the child. As a grandparent to the child, you may wish to know if you could gain custody of your grandchild instead of having them go through the foster care system.

The short answer is yes, but there are stipulations. Keep reading for more information regarding your custody rights as a grandparent.

Pennsylvania’s requirements for grandparental custody

According to the state statute Title 53 Pa.C.S.A. Section 5324, you may file for custody of your grandchild in certain circumstances. If you are already acting as a parent to your grandchild, the process is fairly straightforward. If you are a grandparent that is not already taking care of your grandchild in the absence of a parent, you must meet one of the following conditions:

  • You are willing to take responsibility for your grandchild
  • Neither your grandchild’s biological parents nor the courts opposed the beginning of your relationship with the child

In addition to those factors, the child must be a dependent who is severely at risk if they remain with their parents. This may be due to alcohol abuse, drug abuse, physical abuse or neglect. The child must also reside with you for at least a full year before you file for custody.

Other situations where you may file for custody

Abuse and neglect is not the only reason you may seek custody of your grandchild. If the child’s parents have died, for example, you may wish to file for custody. No matter the reason, the courts must find you sincerely interested in the wellbeing of your grandchild.