Asserting Third Party Rights to Access and Parental Status
The majority of children are now born to parents who are not married. With this increase in single parents has come an increase in the number of grandparents or other family members who are taking on a parental role. Many are caring for grandchildren or a sibling's children because the natural parent is addicted, jailed, estranged, or absent.
The Avallone Law Associates represents these surrogate caregivers in motions for partial custody. We also represent grandparents who have been denied the right to see their grandchildren. Serving the Philadelphia area and southeast Pennsylvania, our lawyers have handled many cases involving grandparent rights and third party rights. Contact us today to discuss your legal options.
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Grandparent Rights / Third Party Rights
Our family law attorneys are at the forefront of this complex and evolving area of the law. We represent grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings, godparents, or family friends in two key issues:
Recognizing that so many children are being raised by a person who is not their parent, Pennsylvania has changed the law. New statutes allow custody petitions by (a) a biological parent or (b) a relative or person who has acted " in loco parentis" (serving in a parental role) for 12 months or more.
Without formal custody status, caregivers cannot obtain health insurance or government benefits, enroll the child in school, or otherwise address all needs of the child. Grandparents and third parties who have met the 12-month threshold now have standing to petition the court for (full or partial) custody. Avallone Law Associates can explain the extent and limitations of your rights, and fight for custody to protect the best interests of a grandchild or vulnerable child in your care.
There is no automatic grandparent right (or third party right) to visitation - while many judges are sympathetic, others are loathe to interfere with a parent's decision. You may have cause to petition for court-ordered visits, especially if an established relationship with your grandchild or niece/nephew was suddenly cut off (e.g., the child's parents divorced).
Under a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2000 ( Troxel v. Granville), the court ruled that grandparents' rights are derivative of parents' rights. In other words, if your former daughter-in-law or son-in-law wants to limit your contact with your grandchildren, they have considerable power to do so.
In representing grandparents and other family members in asserting rights to visitation, Avallone Law Associates fights for you. Our skilled lawyers will try to convince the judge that the denial of access was spiteful, and that the child suffers harm by losing a close relationship with Grandma, Grandpa, or other family members.
This is an overview of grandparent rights and third party rights in custody or visitation. To discuss likely outcomes and legal strategies for your specific situation, contact experienced family law attorneys with demonstrated results. We offer a free initial consultation at 215-253-3855, toll free 1-877-223-0579.