Helping Grandparents Navigate Child Custody Issues
Grandparents play a vital role in the lives of many grandchildren. In some cases, a grandparent may take on a parental role. The role of the grandparent in raising the grandchild, however, can be a source of conflict between parents and grandparents.
If you are a grandparent in Harrisburg or a nearby community in Cumberland County, Dauphin County or York County and are considering petitioning the court for custody of a grandchild, contact Tanner Law Offices, LLC, in Camp Hill. We have extensive experience with the court processes in counties throughout Central Pennsylvania and understand what judges expect to see when making their decisions.
Get all of your questions answered about grandparent custody. Call us at 717-836-0471 to arrange a consultation with an experienced lawyer.
In Order To Be Awarded Custody Of Your Grandchild, You Must Demonstrate Standing
If you are a grandparent concerned about your grandchild’s welfare, you are entitled to petition the court for custody. When a grandparent wishes to petition for custody of his or her grandchildren, the courts will only entertain an action by a grandparent if the grandparent can first show that he or she has “standing.”
In order to show that the grandparent has standing to bring the custody action, he or she will have to prove that:
- The grandparent stands in loco parentis to the child (has taken on a true parental role to the grandchild) or
- If the grandparent does not stand in loco parentis, then the grandparent must show that
- The relationship with the grandchild began with the consent of a parent or through a court order
- That the grandparent has assumed or is willing to assume responsibility for the child AND
- Must meet one of the following conditions:
- The child has been determined to be a dependent child
- The child is substantially at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse or incapacity OR
- The child has, for a period of at least 12 consecutive months, resided with the grandparent, excluding brief temporary absences of the child from the home, and is removed from the home by the parents (in which case, the custody filing must be filed with the court no later than six months after the removal of the child from the home)
Stability is the key factor judges consider when deciding whether a grandparent should be granted custody of a child. Child welfare specialists and judges will consider many factors when making a decision about awarding custody.
Once the grandparent has shown that he or she has standing, the court will then have to consider the following factors before entering an award for custody of the grandchild:
- The amount of personal contact between the grandchild and the grandparent prior to filing the custody action
- Whether granting custody to a grandparent will interfere with the relationship between the child and either or both of the child’s parents
- Whether granting custodial time to the grandparent is in the best interest of the grandchild
The role and rights of grandparents has changed in recent years. It is important to have competent representation to protect your rights as either a grandparent or a parent who is a defendant against the petition of a grandparent.