Pennsylvania Family Law and Divorce
Lisa Marie Vari & Associates, P.C.

Grandparent Child Custody by the Numbers

By Lisa Vari on G+

Our Lawrence County child custody lawyers know that grandparents also play an important role in care-giving. Grandparents are preferred (and enthusiastic) baby-sitters for parents' nights out, and even longer term for vacations, sabbaticals, and any other time when parents are not available.

It is also the case that in more and more instances, grandparents are taking on more of the role of care-giving from their children. With more single parents who need to work longer hours to provide for their families, grandparents are more and more taking on the majority of care for their grandchildren. In a recent study, Pew research center showed that approximately 1 in 10 American children lived in the same house as a grandparent, and in many cases that meant that they lived in the home of the grandparent.

What are the reasons for this? Primarily, the economy. With lower incomes and higher unemployment rates, it becomes more difficult for a single non-working person to make ends meet on their own. Sharing housing and utilities with a parent or child makes it much easier to get to the end of the month. Even though the economy is the primary reason for this increase, it does not mean that this is negative. First, from an economic perspective, a grandparent in the home makes it easier for a single parent to work more hours and earn more money than they could otherwise. Additionally, a strong bond between grandparent and grandchild is healthy for both sides.

In Pennsylvania, grandparents are privileged to be able to go into court to make claims for custody of their grandchildren, regardless of whether or not they have been acting in loco parentis to the grandkids (which, as this study indicates, commonly occurs.) To make a claim for physical custody without serving in loco parentis status, the grandparent must prove that the relationship with the grandparent began with the consent of the parent; the grandparent assumes or is willing to assume responsibility for the child; and that the grandchild(ren) resided with the grandparents for at least 12 months, the grandchildren have been declared by the courts to be dependent because of parental abuse or neglect, or the grandparents believe that the grandchildren are at substantial risk because of parental abuse, neglect, or drug or alcohol issues. This rule plays into the "best interest of the child" which is the standard in Lawrence County child custody issues.

If you are a grandparent who wants to make a claim for custody of your grandchildren, contact our Lawrence County child custody lawyers today!

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