Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Third Parties Can Have Child Custody Rights Too In Pennsylvania

From JD Supra:

In Pennsylvania, a parent of a minor child may file an action for physical and/or legal custody of the child.  In certain circumstances, this right is also extended to grandparents and third parties who stand in loco parentis to the child.  Therefore, though it is presumed the parent has a right to custody, it may be forfeited if, by convincing evidence, the best interest of the child is served by awarding custody to a third party.

A person who stands in loco parentis has created a parent-like relationship to the child sufficient to warrant providing that individual the right to seek continued contact with the child.  This status can be conferred upon any third party, including, but not limited to, current or ex-spouses or partners, friends, siblings, and distant relatives.

For those grandparents who are unable to prove they stand in loco parentis, Pennsylvania has enacted specific provisions to provide them with alternative means to seek custody.  

Grandparents who do not meet the elements for standing to sue for any form of physical or legal may still have the means to insert themselves into a custody dispute if they meet the elements for standing to sue for partial custody or visitation rights.  This standing is further extended to great-grandparents who do not stand in loco parentis to the child.

Read more here.

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