Grandparent’s Rights Cases in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County
Appellate Cases Regarding Custody Including Grandparents’ Rights
- K.B., II, K.B. and B.B. v. C.B.F – In a case that made local and national news (even Inside Edition wanted an interview) and papers, Attorney Vari was successful in reversing the decision of the trial court that awarded primary physical custody to the paternal grandparents when the natural mother was a fit parent, the father was mentally unstable and incapable of holding a job, the father resided with the paternal grandparents, and the paternal grandfather suffered from post-traumatic combat syndrome and was on disability and grandmother worked full-time. After waiting over 1 year while the appeal was pending, the Superior Court returned the minor child to his mother. In the
- Interest of B.S. – In a case argued by Attorney Lisa Marie Vari, the Pennsylvania Superior Court found that the paternal grandparent who was acting as a temporary kinship care provider for her grandson had the right to notice of any proceedings and any opportunity to be heard, but did not have standing to participate in the child’s dependency proceedings or to call witnesses or present evidence. Paternal grandmother sought the right to participate in the dependency hearing since CYS without warning and without stating any justifiable reason removed the grandchild from her home. In the Interest of: B.S., Appeal of: D.D., 2007 Pa. Super. 297. Both of the child’s parents were deemed unfit and the child had been residing with strangers in a non-relative foster home after the child was removed from maternal grandmother’s home. In a true story of David vs. Goliath, after the Superior Court appeal was decided, the paternal grandmother filed a custody complaint seeking primary physical custody of her grandson and after a very hotly contested custody trial was awarded primary physical custody of her grandson. The paternal grandmother was successful in defeating the child welfare agency, Indiana County CYS, mother, and father to be awarded custody of her grandson.
- Hiller v. Fausey – PA Supreme Court held that the PA Grandparent Visitation Statutes which allow grandparents to seek partial custody or visitation with their minor grandchildren are constitutional and rejected the argument that the PA Grandparent Visitation Statute violates the custodial parent’s Due Process rights under the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. The PA Supreme Court held the PA Grandparent Visitation statute constitutional even after consideration of a fit parent’s rights regarding the care, custody, and control of their minor children. PA Supreme Court refuses to find the statute violates the US Constitution as in the Troxel v. Grandville case from Washington state.
- Morgan v. Weiser – Mother and father’s parental rights were terminated and the maternal grandparents became the children’s adoptive parents. After the grandparents’ adoption, the grandparents permitted father some minimal contact with the children. The court held that father no longer had standing to seek custody of the children since his rights were terminated and he did not stand in loco parentis any longer to the children.
- Helsel v. Puricelli – Grandfather appeals the trial court’s order finding that he did not have standing to seek visitation or partial custody with his grandchild. Grandfather argues that because the child’s parents had been separated for more than 6 months, he should be granted standing even though the parents reconciled prior to the time his custody complaint was filed with the court. The Superior Court held that pursuant to the Grandparent Visitation Act, the minor grandchild’s parents must be currently separated for at least 6 months, the grandchild’s parents must be divorced, the children’s parents must have never married and don’t live together, a parent must be deceased, or the grandchild must have lived with the grandparent for at least 12 months for a grandparent to have standing to file the complaint. The Court also ruled that because the litigant was the step-grandfather and not the biological or adoptive grandfather, he did not have standing to file a complaint under the Grandparent Visitation Statutes.
- In The Interest of LC, II – PA Superior Court ruled that grandmother of minor child did not have standing to participate in grandchild’s juvenile dependency hearing .
- In The Interest of MJS – Biological father’s termination of parental rights and adoption of child by grandparents upheld after father sought to vacate adoption decree when father failed to participate in judicial proceedings seeking to advance his rights when he knew he was not named on child’s birth certificate.
- Little-Stepp v. Cancilla and Little-Stepp – Father’s adoptive mother may seek partial custody or visitation of minor grandchild under PA Grandparent Visitation statutes.
The cases listed are for informational purposes only and may have been amended or overturned by subsequently decided court cases.
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