Many Grandparents take over the role of custodians when their sons and daughters are incapable of taking care of their own children. Even if it is only temporary, there are legal ways to ensure that your grandchildren are safe and secure in your care when you are their primary caretaker.
What do you need to know if you have custody of your Grandchild? You have a right to seek court orders awarding you custody or guardianship a child or children living in your home. Even if their parents are willing to let your grandchildren live in your home, it may be necessary to have a legal document to prove that you are responsible for their primary care in order to take them to the doctor or enroll them in school or arrange for daycare while you are working.
Custody of your Grandchild
If you plan to ask the court to ask for the legal right to keep custody of your grandchildren, you need to have “standing” – a legal reason – giving you the right to file a petition for custody orders. Standing to request custody orders can exist in several ways, the first of which is when a grandparent is “in loco parentis” to the child – a legal term indicating that the grandparent is acting as a parent with the consent of the parents.
If you are not “in loco parentis,” you must prove that (1) the relationship began with the parents’ consent or a court order, and (2) you are willing to assume the responsibility for the child, and one of the following situations exist: either (a) the child is determined to be a dependent child; or (b) the child is at substantial risk due to parental abuse or neglect, drug or alcohol abuse or incapacity, or (c) for at least 12 consecutive months, the child has resided with the grandparent and has been removed by the parent. See 23 Pa.C.S. 5324 If your reason for seeking custody is (c), then you have 6 months from the child’s removal to file for custody. Don’t wait for the end of the six months, act now if you think it is in the best interests of the child to be with you.
Even if the parents agree that you will be the primary custodian of their child, it still may benefit you and your grandchild to get a court order that establishes your legal rights and describes the parents’ ongoing involvement, if any. If you would like to formalize custody of your grandchildren, a lawyer can help to understand the laws and rules that give you standing to seek a court order confirming your role. If you want to obtain or maintain custody of your grandchildren, call the experienced family lawyers at The Mazza Law Group, P.C. for advice and assistance. We have helped literally hundreds of families work thru the process of raising children and grandchildren in non-traditional ways.