To address some of the problems which have arisen for children of parents with opioid addictions, Pennsylvania has expanded the rights of third parties to seek custody of a child. When there is not a parent available to care for a child, any individual who is willing to assume responsibility for a child and has a sustained, substantial and sincere interest in the welfare of the child may now seek custody of the child. The prior law had strict requirements which had to be met for an individual to seek custody of a child. This change gives interested parties, such as neighbors or adult siblings, the opportunity to step in to care for a child before a child is placed into the state dependency system.

 

The new law also modifies the circumstances when a grandparent can seek periods of custody of a child. The prior law had come under the scrutiny of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and parts of that law were declared unconstitutional. In an effort to resolve the concerns of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the statute now provides that when a custody action is filed by either parent, and the grandparent’s relationship with the child began with the consent of either parent, the grandparent has the right to seek periods of custody with the child. If you would like further information about these changes and how they may impact your rights with regard to a child, please contact the family law attorneys at AWKM.