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Grandmother could lose grandchildren in custody dispute

The opioid crisis affects those who have been ensnared by their addiction as well as their family members who also have to live with consequences. The past few years have shown that more parents are raising the children of their children who face substance abuse struggles. However, many state laws may make a custody dispute on the part of the grandparent an uphill battle. Pennsylvania grandparents may be interested in the custody dispute of a grandmother who desperately wants to keep her two grandchildren.

When the children were infants, both parents voluntarily relinquished custody of them until they were no longer minors. Their mother's mother willingly chose to care for the children, thinking they would be in her care until they turned 18. They are now 12 and 13, and the father, who lives over 1,000 miles away from the grandmother, has decided he wants custody of them. Their mother is physically unable to care for them but is able to see them when she visits her mother's house.

The children do not want to move, as they have friends and are involved in activities they would have to leave behind if they were to move. The therapist they have seen over the years has even written a letter recommending the children stay in the only home they have known. However, the grandmother chose to represent herself during her court appearance, and the judge ruled against her and granted custody to the father. The judge explained the state gives preference to the parents unless they are found to be unfit, which he did not in this case.

However, the judge will allow the children to stay with their grandmother until the divorce agreement between their parents is settled. That agreement says the children will stay in the state unless the parents agree otherwise or unless there is a court order requiring them to move. The grandmother says she could go to jail if she does not give the children to their father, but she is willing to accept that consequence.

Until changes in laws are made, many grandparents may face this same outcome. Each case is different, but removing children from the only home they have ever known can be traumatic. A Pennsylvania family law attorney will ensure a client's rights are represented in a contentious custody dispute.            

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