Grandparents often want to be an active part in the lives of their grandchildren. However, in Pennsylvania, if a child's parents live together under the same roof and the child has never lived with the grandparent, the grandparent may not have visitation rights. There are, however, certain conditions under which a grandparent may ask for visitation rights.
A grandparent may ask for custody rights or visitation rights if the grandparent has a genuine concern for the child. If the child's parents have died or are in a toxic or unhealthy living environments -- such as a history of domestic violence which could possibly endanger the child -- a grandparent may seek visitation rights.
If the grandparent shares a close relationship with the child, with the consent of one of the parents the person may be given custody rights. The grandparent may also ask for visitation rights if the grandchild has previously lived with the grandparent for a year.
The grandparent may agree to custody rights if the grandparent believes that the grandchild is at risk of substance abuse due to parents' addictions. In addition, in urgent situations, such as if the child's parents are missing, the court may ask for termination of parental rights.
However, termination does not happen automatically. It is permitted only if the parent has not fulfilled their parental responsibilities. For instance, if the child's parents have been away because of military deployment or illness, that parent must do whatever is possible to stay in touch with the child. Otherwise, the court may regard this as negligence and may terminate the rights of the parent.
Source: PAILP.org, "The Grandparents' Guide to Custody & Visitation in Pennsylvania," Accessed on Aug. 20, 2015