Child custody litigation in Ohio and elsewhere is not limited to disputes between parents. Sometimes circumstances warrant that others seek legal intervention on behalf of children who have been victimized by circumstances beyond their control. Courts are charged with the responsibility of deciding these child custody cases in the best interests of the children involved, though the answer is not always clear cut. One Philadelphia case underscores the significant burden courts face in meeting their responsibilities.

Four people in Philadelphia have been arrested in a case that has made international headlines. They are charged with kidnapping, conspiracy and simple assault, as well as unlawful restraint and burglary. The charges result from a discovery by police on October 15 that four mentally challenged adults, a woman and three men, were found locked in a Philadelphia boiler room. As the story unfolded, it appears the individuals suffered abuse and imprisonment at the hands of those accused. In addition, 10 children were also victims.

On October 19, the city's Police Commissioner revealed that two of the children rescued were children of two of the mentally challenged prisoners. All 10 children that were saved were transferred to the care and custody of the Department of Human Services (DHS), but it has also been revealed that the grandparents of the two children are seeking child custody of their daughter's children. Their lawyer has indicated the couple has formally requested temporary custody, saying that as their own daughter heals and gets the help she needs, they are asking DHS to transfer the care of the 7 and 2-year-old to their care as they begin to rebuild their family.

Ultimately, the decision will be made by the appropriate court, after a review of all the facts and circumstances. The grandparents have already retained legal counsel to help them with the seemingly impenetrable maze of court procedures and government regulations.

Those individuals seeking child custody in Ohio, whether or not they are the children's parents, would benefit from conferring with an attorney devoted to helping individuals and families do the right thing concerning the care of affected children. The lawyer can help get important answers and assist in preparing a meaningful case designed to convince the court of what is truly in the best interests of the children.

Source: The NBC Philadelphia, "Parents of Dungeon Victim Seek Custody of Grandchildren," Teresa Masterson, Oct. 21, 2011