Some grandparents in Pennsylvania may be compelled to assume the role of parent when a child lacks proper parental care, or the grandparent believes a parent has been abusing a grandchild. If a parent suffers from mental illness or has a problem with substance abuse, a grandparent may have a new role to play. Pennsylvania family court, in the best interest of the child, may ask the grandparent to assume custody rights for a grandchild.
Grandparent visitation rights are determined by the Pennsylvania Custody and Grandparents' Visitation Act, which provides that a grandparent may have visitation rights and partial custody of the grandchild. A grandparent is allowed to visit the child without the supervision of the legal guardian, and may also have the right to remove the child from the custody of the legal custodian for a holiday or a vacation.
However, if the grandparent has been granted only visitation rights, then the grandparent may visit the child while supervised by the legal guardian or custodial parent. The grandparent, in this case, will not have the right to remove the child from the control of the custodial parent.
A grandparent can ask for custody rights if the child's parents are dead or if the parents are divorced. If parents have been separated for longer than six months or if they were never married, grandparents are entitled to visitation rights. A grandparent who lived with a child for more than a year and developed a bond with that child is also entitled to visitation rights. Regardless of the parental or grandparental situation, a Pennsylvania family court will make the decision regarding grandparent visitation rights based on the best interest of the child.
Source: Women's Law Project, "Grandparents' Rights in Pennsylvania," Accessed on June 23, 2015