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Important facts for those seeking legal custody of a child

Child custody can be a complex and emotional issue for parents and other relatives in Pennsylvania. It goes without saying that the child's best interests should be paramount and, in seeking that, the law has taken steps to list who can file for physical or legal custody of a child. Also important are the issues of co-parenting, shared custody or supervised physical custody for certain people. When this is an issue, having a firm grasp of the law is the first step to knowing how to settle it.

A parent or a person who can stand in place of a parent, known as "loco parentis," can seek legal custody or physical custody of a child. If a grandparent who is not in loco parentis seeks to have physical or legal custody, the following factors must be in place: the relationship must either have started with the parent's consent or through a court order or the grandparent must assume or be willing to assume responsibility for the child. In addition, one of the following situations must be in place: the child has been deemed to be dependent; the child is at risk of neglect, abuse or drug and alcohol abuse with the parent; or the child has lived with the grandparent for a minimum of 12 months apart from brief and temporary absences and has been removed from the home of the parents with that case having been filed within six months post-removal.

With partial or supervised physical custody, the grandparents and great-grandparents can seek custody if: a parent is deceased; the parents of the child have been separated for a minimum of six months or have moved forward with a marriage dissolution; or the child has lived with the grandparent or great-grandparent for at least 12 months with the child having been removed from the parents' home and the action was filed within six months of that removal.

Custody is a thorny issue, particularly when the child's safety is considered to be at stake. For those who are seeking to serve the best interests of a child, there are times when it is necessary for someone other than the parents to seek to have legal custody or shared custody.

Source: legis.state.pa.us, "5324. Standing for any form of physical custody or legal custody.; 5325. Standing for partial physical custody and supervised physical custody.," accessed on Jan. 17, 2017

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Haller & Imbarlina, P.C.
20120 Route 19, Suite 208
Gigliotti Plaza
Cranberry Township, PA 16066

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Haller & Imbarlina, P.C.