The opioid crisis has affected many parents who are in danger of losing their children. In many cases, the grandparents are able to step in and be the parents the children need them to be. However, Pennsylvania grandparents who have taken over parental duties for their children have a fight in front of them while trying to gain physical custody of their grandchildren. One woman is telling her story of her attempt at getting physical custody of her two granddaughters, in hopes that it will help others in her position.
The 59-year-old grandmother, and her daughter and two granddaughters, shared an apartment in order to cut living expenses. A neglect complaint to the Department of Family and Children Services by an unknown individual resulted in the girls, ages 2 and 5, being placed in foster care. The complaint stated the children were not taken for blood testing for potential diseases after hypodermic needles were found in the mother’s bedroom. When the grandmother went to court to get the girls back in her care, she was advised that she would not need the services of an attorney, but she ended up losing her case. A recent supervised visit found the girls in good spirits, but the grandmother could tell they did not display the ebullience they normally possessed.
The grandmother’s situation was covered in her local paper, and an attorney offered his services pro bono. She was recently excited about going to court for a ruling, but the DCF attorney was on vacation and would not be back by the date the court had set. A later date was placed on the docket, and she will find out if that hearing will reveal placement and custody actions or if it is just an initial trial.
The court has a responsibility to children to thoroughly examine all information available in a particular case before it grants physical custody to anyone, blood relation or not. When there is no experienced legal representation to ensure all pertinent information is presented to the court, the outcome may be less than desirable. An attorney in Pennsylvania will work with a client to guarantee the court has the material it needs to make an informed decision that will be in the children’s best interests.