Great-Grandparent Custody

Great-grandparents are able to pursue partial custody just as grandparents are. Section 5325 of the Domestic Relations Statute indicates great-grandparents may petition for partial custody/visitation where one of the following conditions is met: (1) a parent of the child is deceased; (2) the parents of the child have been separated for at least six months; or (3) the child has lived with the great-grandparent(s) for at least 12 consecutive months and a petition is filed within six months after the child is removed from the home.

It is also possible for grandparents to request any form of custody under Section 5324. While great-grandparents are not specifically mentioned in this provision, they can still pursue custody if they stand in loco parentis to the child. In loco parentis status requires more than just a caretaker position. For example, in Argenio v. Felton, 703 A.2d 1042 (Pa. Super. 1997), the Superior Court denied in loco parentis status to a grandparent who daily cared for the child. The court based its conclusion on the fact that the grandmother “proved that she acted as no more than a care-taker, in effect, a baby-sitter for the child, albeit a frequent caretaker.” In loco parentis literally means in the place of the parent. In Peters v. Costello, 891A. 2d 705 (Pa. 2005), the Court explained “in loco parentis status embodies an assumption of parental status as well as an actual discharge of parental duties, and gives rise to a relation which is exactly the same as between parent and child.”

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