Pennsylvania Laws on Third Parties & Child Custody

by Wayne Thomas
In Pennsylvania custody disputes, the law evaluates what is in the best interests of the child.

In Pennsylvania custody disputes, the law evaluates what is in the best interests of the child.

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In Pennsylvania, parents have a right to spend time with their child after a divorce. This may be at odds, however, with members of either parent's family who believe that they are in a better position to care for the child than the child's own parents. Knowing how courts in Pennsylvania treat requests by non-parent "third parties" will reduce some of the uncertainty in your custody dispute.

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Third Party Rights

In Pennsylvania, courts evaluate all custody decisions based on evidence of which caretakers would promote the best interests of the child. Pennsylvania courts presume that contact with a natural parent would likely be the best caretaker for her child, but being a parent doesn’t automatically rule out custody request that a third party has made such as a sibling or the child’s grandparent. The court may award custody to the third party, if the third party can show the court that the child’s safety or welfare is in jeopardy. The third party does not have the same rights as a parent, however. If the third party wants more time with the child than sporadic visits, the evidence and reasons presented must be convincing.