Parties other than parents and grandparents may be able to file for custody. Section 5324 of the Pennsylvania Domestic Relations laws discusses who has standing to file for legal and physical custody. First, a person who stands in loco parentis may file for custody. In loco parentis status means you are acting as a parent even though there isn’t the biological connection. It has been defined as an assumption of parental status as well as an actual discharge of parental duties giving rise to a relationship which is the same as between a natural parent and child. This requires more than just a frequent care-taker role.
A grandparent may be able to file for legal and physical custody if their relationship with the child began with the consent of the parents and they are willing to assume responsibility for the child. In addition, one of three conditions must be met. First, the child has been adjudicated dependent. This happens through a legal proceeding. Second, it is established that the child is at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol use. Finally, if the child had resided with the grandparent for at least a year and is subsequently removed from the home then the grandparent can file for custody within six (6) months from the removal date. Grandparents can also see partial physical custody of their grandchildren under Section 5325 if they are unable to meet the requirements for standing under Section 5324.