It is not uncommon for Pennsylvania grandparents to seek custody of their grandchildren. In some cases, the parents may be deceased or unable to care for the child. Other times, the grandparents may feel that the child would be better off living with them because the child’s parents are suffering from drug addiction.
If you are a grandparent considering seeking custody of your grandchild due to their parents’ addiction, there are a few things you should know.
How the opioid epidemic has affected the family unit
The opioid epidemic has hit America hard in recent years, and the problem shows no signs of slowing down. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioids accounted for 60% of overdose deaths in Pennsylvania. This is a startling statistic that reveals just how dangerous opioids are.
When most people think of the opioid epidemic, they likely think of its deadly effects on the individual. However, society tends to overlook opioids’ impact on family structure and dynamics.
More and more parents cannot care for their children due to addiction. It can be that they are neglecting their children or are incarcerated or receiving treatment for their addiction. In many cases, the grandparents are stepping in to help raise the grandchildren.
Pennsylvania Act 21 expanded the rights of grandparents in this situation
Because of the ongoing opioid crisis, in 2018, the PA General Assembly expanded grandparents’ rights seeking custody or visitation. A grandparent can petition the court for physical or legal custody if they have “already assumed or are willing to assume responsibility for the child” and they “have a sustained, substantial, and sincere interest in the child.”
If you are a grandparent and are concerned about your grandchild’s well-being, you should speak with someone about Pennsylvania’s child custody laws. They can help you understand what you can do to ensure your grandchild’s safety and health.