Can CYF hold a mother responsible for the actions of the father?

Q: My sister in recently had her children taken from her custody and placed with her mother-in-law for a failed drug test and a somewhat recent drug related charge. My sister’s husband is a heavy drug user and hasn’t even contacted the children since they have been placed with his mother. My sister claims that CYF told her that they will be holding her accountable for his actions even though they are separated and not even living together. Is this legal? (West Mifflin, PA)

A: It helps if the heavy drug user father is out of the home. However, if mother has a positive screen and drug related arrest, it can result in children being removed from her home. More facts would need to be known. I suggest the mother speak with a lawyer who handles custody and cases involving CYF. If she cannot afford a lawyer, I suggest she contact the Allegheny County Bar Foundation Juvenile Court Project to see if she qualifies for a free attorney. In situations like this, mother may have a better chance of reunification and getting custody back if she splits from father altogether and enters and completes a serious drug and alcohol program.

If you feel like this issue relates to you, or a problem that you are experiencing, please contact me so that we can discuss your situation.