Under certain circumstances, such as the death of a child’s parents, it will be up to the Pennsylvania courts to determine what will happen to that child. In the absence of another parent, the child’s grandparents are normally the next relative that can petition for custody. As things stand now, other relatives such as aunts and uncles do not have the right to petition for child custody except under specific circumstances.
The legislature of one of Pennsylvania’s neighboring states is attempting the pass a bill that would allow what are defined as “second degree relatives” to petition for custody of a child. There are circumstances where a child’s grandparents may be willing, but are not able to take custody of their grandchild. However, many families want to make sure that the child is placed with a family member and does not have to be put in foster care.
In the absence of such legislation, other relatives such as aunts and uncles may only be eligible to petition for custody if they have been taking care of the child for a long period of time. It would then be up to that relative to show the court they have had physical custody of the child and why they should be allowed to continue with that arrangement. It will then be up to the court to make the final determination of who should be given custody of the child.
One of the most difficult times in a child’s life would have to be when he or she loses one or both parents. Determining child custody issues in this case can be both difficult and heart wrenching. In the end, the court will do whatever it can to ensure that the best interests of the child are met.
Source: troyrecord.com, “VIDEO: Proposed bill elevates legal status of other relatives in child custody cases,” Kyle Hughes, May 31, 2013