What can my son do?

Q: My son has custody of his daughter because her mother passed. And, her mother’s mother keeps taking my son to court for visitation. My granddaughter is 12 and she does not want to go over her house anymore. I do believe she is doing this because she does not like my son for what reason I do not know. My granddaughter is becoming stressed out due to this and my son as well. I would like to know if there is anything my son can do. Or if there is anything that you can suggest. I do not want either one of them to keep going thru this. Been going on for two years now. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: There are somewhat recent amendments regarding standing needed for a grandparent to have visitation or custody of a grandchild found in 23 Pa. CS Sec. 5324. If this grandmother has had substantial contact with this child in the past she probably has standing. It will help if your son has an attorney. The attorney may suggest an appointment of a psychologist to assess the situation. He or she could evaluate the parties and advise the court.

Can I lose custody if living with a convicted felon?

Q: I am dating a man with 3 felony convictions. The most recent being 13 years old. Could I lose 50/50 custody of my children? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: It can be brought up at a custody hearing by the children’s father. Whether it will affect your custody, is up to the judge. Many parents coming before the court have a criminal history which doesn’t necessarily mean they are not qualified to parent. With your case it depends on the facts. How long ago was the conviction, what was it for (hopefully not for child sex crimes) what has he done since, is he clean and responsible now? Do you have a suitable and stable home for the children? You get the idea. Good luck.

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.

Do I have any custody or visitation right as an aunt?

Q: My husband and I have been in his life since birth up to a little over a year ago when his mother took all visitation away. I supported him with diapers and cloths and wipes and we had him all the time. We love him, we taught him to swim gave him lesson we put him in early classes to learn to play with other kids! She got a boyfriend now so there are no visits. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: Generally, grandparent have not right, or “standing” as they call it, to visitation or custody. However, you may benefit from recent amendments to the custody statute found in 23 PA CS Section 5324 based on your lengthy past relationship with the child. I would consult with a family law attorney to see if it would be worth filing a petition for custody or visitation standing.