Act 112: Sections 5324-5326 - "Standing" provisions

Sections 5324-5326 of Act 112 deal with "standing". Standing" refers to the ability of someone to seek legal relief. In custody, only certain people have standing to seek custody. For example, a stranger cannot pursue a custody action for a child no matter how great a parent they could be for that child.

The new laws largely follows existing law for standing. However, an interesting new wrinkle is that Section 5324 provides standing to anybody who is in loco parentis to the child. In loco parentis means that the person has acted as a parent towards the child.

Section 5324: Standing to seek any form of custody.

The following people have standing to seek any form of physical or legal custody for a particular child:

1. A parent
2. A person who stands in loco parentis to the child; and
3 A grandparent (under certain circumstances).

Under Act 112, a grandparent can file for any custody when (A) a parent or court consented to the grandparent beginning a relationship with the child and (B) the grandparents will assume responsibility and (C) the child is "at-risk" or "dependent" or has lived with the grandparent for 12 months.

The big change here is that any person who stands in loco parentis to the child may petition for custody. Under Act 112, there is no apparent minimum period of time for standing based on in loco parentis. This will be an interesting area moving forward. Is 3 months long enough? A month? A week?

Section 5325: Standing for partial custody.

In addition to the above standing, a grandparent or great-grandparent has standing to seek partial custody where:

(1) The parent of the child is deceased; or

(2) Where the parents have been separated for 6 months or started divorce proceedings; or

(3) When the child has lived with the (great) grandparents for 12 months.

Section 5326: Effect of Adoption.

This provision extinguishes certain custody rights upon the adoption of the child..