Grandparent Standing for Custody/Visitation
Section 5325 of the Domestic Relations laws sets out the circumstances under which grandparents and great-grandparents may petition for partial custody/visitation. One of three conditions must be met: (1) a parent of the child is deceased; (2) the parents of the child have been separated for at least six months AND don’t agree on whether the grandparent or great-grandparent should have custody/visitation; or (3) the child has lived with the grandparents or great-grandparents for at least 12 consecutive months provided a petition is filed within six months after the child is removed from the home.
Non-biological grandparents also have the right to seek grandparent visitation rights where they stand in loco parentis to one of the parents of the child and it’s in the child’s best interest. In loco parentis embodies an assumption of parental status as well as an actual discharge of parental duties giving rise to a relationship which is the same as between parent and child. It is also possible for grandparents to request primary custody under Section 5324 of the Domestic Relations laws if they stand in loco parentis to the child. Again, in loco parentis means more than just taking on a frequent caretaker position. Under Section 5324, a grandparent can also file where they are unable to establish in loco parentis but can establish an existing relationship with the child and that the child is at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, or drug/alcohol abuse.