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Every family is unique, and every child is precious. Grandparents who are actively present in their grandchildren’s lives know this better than anyone. Some grandchildren may even live with a grandparent for various reasons. For example, sometimes a grandparent takes over when the child’s parent must be absent for a reason beyond their control, such as illness, military deployment, incarceration, or death. In other families, a temporary babysitting arrangement may have grown into full-time residence.
In some cases parents may welcome a grandparent's custody request and in other cases grandparents may be forced to take legal action to obtain custody or visitation with their grandchildren.
Grandparents can request physical or legal custody of a child if they already have legal status that allows them to act as the child’s parent (this is called in loco parentis) or under specified other circumstances. These circumstances are that the grandparent-child relationship began with a parent’s consent or under a court order, the grandparent is willing to assume responsibility for the child, and one of the following conditions exists:
1. The child is a dependent child,
2. The child is substantially at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse or incapacity, or
3. The child has resided with the grandparent for at least 12 consecutive months, excluding brief temporary absences of the child from the home, and is removed from the home by the parents, in which case the grandparents’ action must be filed within six months.
Grandparents may also request partial physical custody or supervised physical custody if the parent of the child has died, the parents have either been separated for at least six months or filed for divorce, or the child has lived with the grandparent for at least 12 months. Under these limited circumstances, the court will decide a grandparent’s right to custody based on the amount of personal contact between the child and grandparent, whether custody to the grandparent would interfere with any parent-child relationship, and again, the best interest of the child.
Every situation is different, but an experienced family law attorney can help find the elusive solutions to custody conflicts. We handle all child custody matters and have helped clients in Easton, Allentown and Bethlehem. Contact us for a free consultation today.
Madsen Law Offices is located in Easton, Pennsylvania and represents clients throughout the Lehigh Valley, including Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Jim Thorpe, Stroudsburg and other outlying areas.