In the Place of a Parent: How the Courts View In Loco Parentis

How the Courts View In loco Parentis

Attorneys often speak a language that sounds foreign to many people today. Much of this legalese stems from Latin terms that represent the foundation of our modern legal codes. One of those terms can play a big role in legal custody cases: in loco parentis.

What does it mean to act in loco parentis?

By definition, in loco parentis means “in the place of a parent.” In Pennsylvania, the courts provide greater detail, stating that the status of in loco parentis can be granted to “one who has assumed and discharged parental duties on behalf of the child but is not a natural parent.” In a nutshell, it refers to the legal responsibility of an individual or – in certain circumstances – an organization to perform some of the responsibilities of a parent. This legal doctrine is relevant in various scenarios, including instances where a different family member assumes a guardian role or when a teacher’s choices impact a student.

What role in loco parentis standing plays in child custody disputes?

In loco parentis relationship can become a major factor in child custody disputes where one party, although not a biological mother or father, has played a significant role in a child’s life and wishes to ask the family law court for some kind of custody status. We often see it in families with stepchildren, with grandparents who are intimately involved in the care of a child, as well as between unmarried couples and same-sex couples.

What are the requirements in family law to act in loco parentis?

It is up to the court to decide if an individual does indeed fulfill the criteria to act in place of the parent. But being given the loco parentis status by the court does not guarantee or grant custody. It simply means the court has decided the individual has standing to pursue custodial rights. There are three main factors that determine if a person is adequate to act in loco parentis: the discharge of parental duties, the asumption of parental status and the consent of the parent.

Technically it is also required that the person filing to act in place of the parent must have lived with the child for over six months. If grandparents want to file for custody the child must has lived with them for 12 months before the parents have taken the child back.

Get Expert Help with Your Legal Custody Case

Family dynamics today can be very complicated and every situation is different. If you believe you should have rights to the custody of a child, even partial custody, you need to seek for specific legal advice of legal counsel. Case law on this matter varies and the best way to ensure the court will award you in loco parentis standing and therefore have the right to pursue child custody is to have us review the specifics of your situation and determine the best course of action moving forward. Call us (717) 502-5000.

Other Frequently Asked Questions About In Loco Parentis

Who has legal authority to take protective custody of a child in PA?

When authorities believe a child is being neglected or abused, a social worker or police officer can take them into protective custody.

Related: Pennsylvania Child Custody Factors

Why is loco parentis important in education?

The concept of has crucial importance in educational institutes: schools and teachers are required to act as responsible parents with children under their supervision and consequently become liable for students’ foreseeable injuries.

The concept of “in loco parentis” was historically important in education to establish the authority of school officials over students and to ensure that schools could take necessary actions to maintain discipline, safety, and order among students. Schools were seen as having a duty to provide for the physical and emotional welfare of students, much like a parent would for their child.

Over time, the principle has evolved and, in some cases, been limited by legal changes and increased focus on individual rights. Courts have recognized that students also have constitutional rights that must be respected while they are at school. As a result, schools must balance their authority with respecting students’ rights to due process, freedom of speech, privacy, and protection from unreasonable searches and seizures. The application of the in loco parentis doctrine can also extend to decisions regarding special education services, accommodations, and interventions for students with individual needs.

  1. Bartley seese says:

    I raised Thane since he was 8/9 months old,he's 12 years old now,every holiday,90, percent time he's with me,now his mom back in jail again for years ,dad is career criminal ,the school has assumed for year,I guess this is loco parentis,now his mom dad gram have shared legal ,gram has primary physical custody,we lived together ,split up 6/7 years ago,but Thane stays with school knows ,I live on social security disability pay rent lights ,car life insurance ,have cable internet phone get 1035 a month ,HELP

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