Bucks County Grandparent & Stepparent Rights Attorney
In Pennsylvania, state law only allows specific people to exercise custody rights over a minor child. In addition to the child’s legal parents, a person who stands in loco parentis for the child, like a stepparent, and grandparents that meet certain criteria are allowed to request custody rights from the court. If you are interested in learning more about how a stepparent or grandparent can gain child custody rights, call or contact the knowledgeable Bucks County grandparents & stepparents rights attorneys at Kardos, Rickles & Hand today to schedule a consultation.
Stepparent Child Custody Rights
Stepparents can exercise child custody rights if they stood in loco parentis to the child. This means that the stepparent stood in the place of a legal parent. In order to qualify as in loco parentis, the stepparent must take over the responsibilities and obligations of parenting a child without a formal adoption and the parent that the stepparent is taking the place of has effectively discharged those responsibilities. A stepparent can also assert child custody rights if they go through the formal process of adoption for a child.
In practical terms, if both legal parents still play active roles in their child’s life and share parenting responsibilities, a stepparent likely will not be granted in loco parentis status. However, if one parent has no contact with their child and a stepparent shares in the responsibilities of child rearing with their spouse, they may qualify for custody if the marriage ends in divorce. A stepparent can also assert their rights after a divorce if they have formally adopted the child.
Grandparent Child Custody Rights
Grandparents may also qualify for child custody rights if they stood in loco parentis for one or both parents. However, grandparents can also obtain custody rights without in loco parentis status if they meet the following criteria:
- The grandparent had a relationship with the child that began with the consent of the parent or parents, or because of a court order
- The grandparent has assumed or is willing to assume responsibility for the child
- The child is a dependent child or is at risk because of parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse, or incapacity, or
- In the alternative, the child, for a period of twelve consecutive months, resided with the grandparent and was then removed by the parent. In this case, a custody action must be filed within six months of the child being removed by the parent
An experienced Pennsylvania family law attorney will be able to review the facts of your case and advise whether your circumstances qualify for grandparent or stepparent custody rights.
Call or Contact Our Office Now
Stepparent and grandparent child custody rights can be a complex and emotionally stressful situation. If you would like to speak with an experienced Bucks County family law attorney about a grandparent or stepparent exercising child custody rights in your family, call the office or contact us in Newtown at Kardos, Rickles & Hand today to schedule a consultation of your case.