Jurisdiction to Determine Pennsylvania Custody Cases
Before any family court judge or master can make a custody determination, the family court must have jurisdiction to enter the custody order. Jurisdiction is another way of saying that the court has the authority to enter an order on a particular case. Pennsylvania has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction & Enforcement Act, the UCCJEA, that sets forth the rules regarding which court has jurisdiction to enter a custody order. The UCCJEA provides that the court in the county and state where the minor child has lived for the six month period of time preceding a custody action is generally the court that has jurisdiction to determine the appropriate custody order. The UCCJEA also provides that if there has been a prior order regarding custody, the court that originally entered the order will be the court to modify the prior order unless that court decides that another county court would be the more appropriate forum.
Who Has Standing to Pursue a PA Custody Action?
Generally speaking, in Pennsylvania only a child's biological parents can file a Custody Complaint and seek custody rights with regard to their minor child. In very, very limited circumstances, third parties are granted the rights to seek partial or primary custody of a minor child. Third parties are generally only permitted to seek partial or primary custody if said rights are specifically set forth under state statutes such as the Grandparent Visitation Statutes or if the third parties are granted standing under common law principles such as when the person has acted like a parent to a child whose parent did not reside in the same household. The latter type of standing is called "in loco parentis" meaning acting like a parent.
Contact Our Experienced Pittsburgh Child Custody Attorneys Today
Contact our Pittsburgh child custody lawyers to speak with one of our experienced Allegheny County custody lawyers and learn how we can help your family. You may also telephone our PA custody law firm in Pittsburgh at 412-281-9906, Southpointe (Canonsburg, Washington County) at 724-436-5500, Cranberry Township (Butler County, PA) at 724-776-9906 or toll-free at 1-855-VARI-LAW (1-855-827-4529). Our Pittsburgh and Southpointe law offices are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and evenings by appointment. Our Cranberry Township office is open by appointment only. We're different from many other Pittsburgh custody lawyers, click here to learn why.
Appointments may also be available in other meeting locations throughout Western Pennsylvania upon advance arrangements with our office. Ask the secretary scheduling your appointment for details including appointment locations.
Our Western PA family law office routinely accepts custody cases in Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Lawrence County, Mercer County, Washington County, and Westmoreland County. Our Pittsburgh child custody attorneys accept custody cases in other Western PA counties such as Armstrong County, Erie County, Fayette County, Greene County, Somerset County and Venango County on a case-by-case basis.
Click the following link to learn more about Pennsylvania child custody laws.