Can a Pennsylvania Grandparent Get Primary Physical Custody of Grandchild? Yes and No.

Grandparents can get primary physical custody but It’s all about standing. That is, whether or not a grandparent can even get in the courthouse door, figuratively speaking. The short answer, then, is that when a grandparent is the one who actually does the “parenting” of the child, the answer is yes; the grandparent can obtain primary physical custody of a grandchild.

By “parenting”, though, I mean more than just helping out mom or dad. The operable legal term is in loco parentis. If a grandparent stands in loco parentis, then primary physical custody is achievable. Most of the time this means the grandchild, if old enough, looks to the grandparent as the “parent”. When the grandparent and grandchild live in the same household we have the seeds of in loco parentis. However, if one or both of the parents also live in that household, it will be tough for a grandparent to show he or she stands in place of the parents.

Why? It may not be enough that grandma or grandpa is at home, taking care of a grandchild while mom or dad is at work or school. It may not be enough that grandma is the one who always feeds the kids’ their breakfast and packs their lunches. If mom or dad perform parental duties alongside grandma and grandpa, achieving in loco parentis standing may be difficult. This is true even when a parent is irresponsible and otherwise lacking in parenting skills.

If you are a grandparent seeking to save your grandchildren by gaining custody of them it is vitally important that you seek out the advice and counsel of a lawyer. The same goes for a thoughtful, conscientious parents who are trying to rear their own children as best they can but find themselves in court, struggling with overly meddlesome grandparents.

If you need a custody lawyer to fight for your children or grandchildren please give me a call at 717-582-0400. Consults are free. I provide legal services to clients in central Pennsylvania, including the counties of Cumberland, Perry, Dauphin, Juniata, York, Franklin, Snyder, and MIfflin.

Sean A. Potter
The Law Office of Sean Potter, PC
15 East Main Street
P.O. Box 121
New Bloomfield, Pennsylvania 17068
Phone: 717.582.0400
Fax:     717.582.0401

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