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."
We have all heard the headlines, the heroin epidemic in Western Pennsylvania is getting more and more severe. Most people are in agreement that a parent who is in the active stages of addiction should not be allowed to exercise unsupervised custody. However, many people are lucky enough to recover from their addiction through the help of rehabilitation and therapy. These circumstances lead to many significant questions. If someone's custody was suspended during their addiction or rehabilitation, when or how should it be reinstated? How do you plan in advance for a possible relapse? How supportive should you be of someone's recovery while still being aware that relapse is possible? How do you discuss these issues with the children?