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Grandparents Have An Automatic Right To Seek Custody of Their Grandchildren

The Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently stated that grandparents automatically have standing to seek physical and legal custody of their grandchildren, regardless of their dependency status or whether a parent has been deemed unfit. K.B. II v. C.B.F. (9/25/03). However, having an automatic right to seek custody does not make it any easier to be awarded custody.

The Custody and Grandparent Visitation Act (section 5313b) sets forth the requirements a grandparent must establish in order to obtain custody:

  • The grandparent must have assumed a parental role for at least 1 year; and
  • It must have been necessary for the grandparent to take responsibility because the child was at risk of harm. When making it's decision, the Court balances the best interests of the child with a parents fundamental right to parent. There is a bias in favor of a biological parent over a third party, such as a grandparent.


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A couple can come to their own agreement about property settlement, which the court will generally accept. The Pennsylvania court will decide if either spouse is entitled to alimony, based on age, physical and mental condition, earning potential, duration of the marriage and standard of living. The court decides the duration of alimony, but support ends automatically if the one receiving it remarries or cohabits.
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