Courts in Pennsylvania are most concerned with the best interests of the child anytime they are considering custody. This 'best interests' standard also applies in those cases where a grandparent is attempting to gain some kind of custody of their grandchildren.
Last week, we posted about the new change to the custody laws with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision in D.P. v. G.J.P.. This opinion overturned the portion of the grandparent custody statute that allowed grandparents to have standing to seek partial custody of their grandchildren in cases when parents were separated for at least six months.
As Pittsburgh Custody Lawyers, it is part of our job to remain up-to-date to evolving laws that impact our client's custody rights. In Pennsylvania, many grandparents are afforded the right by law to file for partial or supervised physical custody of their grandchildren. Recently, the statute providing these rights, 23 Pa. C.S.A. Section 5325, was considered and evaluated by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
On September 18, 2015, Judge Smail of the Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas determined that a portion of the statute providing partial custody rights to Grandparents is unconstitutional. Duane Ponko & Bernadette Ponko vs. Gregory Ponko and Angela Ponko concerned divorced co-parents of three children, who made a decision together to discontinue paternal grandparents' contact with their grandchildren. Subsequently, the grandparents chose to initiate a custody complaint pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. § 5325(2) which provides standing to grandparents seeking partial custody of children whose parents have been separated for a minimum of six months.
The important relationship between a Grandparent and his or her grandchild is a relationship that is protected by Pennsylvania law. The Pennsylvania legislature extends standing in specific circumstances for Grandparents to petition the court for custody of their grandchildren.
To participate in custody or dependency proceedings in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, one must have what is known as standing. Standing is the term used to acknowledge a legal basis and right for an individual or individuals to sue in a court of law. For example, a biological mother always has standing to sue a biological father for custody. Her legal basis and right comes from her standing as a parent.
In order to file an action for custody in Pennsylvania, a person must first have "standing" to do so. Standing is just another way of saying that a person is allowed, as a matter of law, to file for what they are asking the court to do. For custody cases, there a several different ways a person can have standing.