Exploring In Loco Parentis Law In Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania custody statute does not define “in loco parentis,” but Pennsylvania courts have found a person to stand in loco parentis to a child when they have taken on parental responsibilities and duties, with the consent of the biological parent. For example, in T.B. v. L.R.M., 753 A.2d 873 (Pa. 2001), the court implied that in loco parentis standing is granted for the benefit of the child, stating that if a “child has established strong psychological bonds with a person” that the child views that person with “a stature like that of a parent,” the third party is provided “the opportunity to litigate fully the issue of whether that relationship should be maintained, even over a natural parent’s objections.”

In other words, if a child has built such a strong connection with a non-parent that terminating such a relationship could prove detrimental to the child’s well-being, the possibility of that third party retaining visitation, partial, or even full custody must be explored. Thus, the focus of determining whether this type of relationship exists is based on the substance of the relationship and not form.

If you think you may stand in loco parentis to a child and would like to learn if you have standing to file for custody, call us today to speak with an attorney experienced in PA child custody law.

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