How can I get legal custody of my great niece?

Q: I have been raising my almost 4-year-old great niece for 2 1/2 years now. While her mother (my niece) was in prison for vehicular manslaughter killing her 6-year old son. Her father dropped her off at my house and has only seen her a handful of times in the past 2 1/2 years. He doesn’t help with her at all. Her mother got out of prison about 3 weeks ago and is trying to take her from me. She can’t even get her son back. I have done everything for this little girl. How do I file abandonment charges on them both? (McKeesport, PA)

A: You have an excellent chance of establishing standing to get custody under new amendments to 23 Pa. CSA Section 5324. You can have an attorney file this motion for you to get in front of a judge and have an order granted. If you cannot afford an attorney, you may be able to get help in the Family Division at 440 Ross Street in downtown Pittsburgh. There is a pro se (self-representation) motions program.

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