Who gets custody when mom and dad are underage? This complicated scenario often plays out with teen pregnancy because they're unintended and leave the new parents, and new grandparents, scrambling for the best custody arrangements.
Many assume a young child belongs with its mother. This outdated Tender Years Doctrine can work, but not always. These days, the Court is less likely to give the mother preference, and instead, it will ask what's best for the child. For example, if the young mother has a substance abuse issue, or can't financially care for the child, then a different custody arrangement will be required.
Who Gets Custody?
In all cases of child custody, the PA courts will prioritize the well-being of the child. The legal system assumes a child will most benefit from equal access to both parents. Notably, arrangements are usually different in instances of teen pregnancy, and the parents aren't likely to have been married when the child was born.
Whether the teen parents were married has no bearing on the way custody will be determined in Pennsylvania. In issuing its child custody order, the Court will look at relevant factors like:
- Who performs most of the parental duties
- Who is more capable of raising the child
- Where will the child receive the most loving and stable environment
- Any history of violence, drug abuse, or substance abuse
Parents, no matter their age, should work with a family law attorney when coming to a manageable custody arrangement that works best for their child.
Grandparent Custody in PA
The grandparents of children born to teen parents are often very involved in the raising of those babies. Sometimes the arrangement is informal, but there are times when it's important to have grandparent custody ordered by the Court.
Importantly, grandparents cannot simply take over the raising of their grandchild just because the mom and dad are minors. Certain conditions must exist for a grandparent to be awarded full legal and physical custody of their grandchild. These conditions include:
- The child is at substantial risk if left in the custody of its parent, or
- The child has been living with the grandparent for at least 12 months.
Full legal and physical custody are only a few options available to grandparents. Sometimes, a grandparent is just trying to develop a relationship. For example, they may wish to seek visitation rights. The process can be messy, but it's well worth it to give the baby every opportunity for love available.
Hire a PA Custody Attorney
Attorney Joseph D. Lento understands how sensitive child custody issues can be, especially when the parents involved are still kids themselves. If you need help establishing custody arrangements for your family, call the Lento Law Firm Family Law Team today at 888-535-3686, or contact us online today.
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