Reworked Pennsylvania Child Custody Law Goes Into Effect in January 2011
PhillyBurbs.com reports that a state law regarding child custody in Pennsylvania has been revised. It goes into effect this week to help alleviate the pain for families during the divorce process.
In November, state legislature approved new rules regarding child custody intended to improve transparency and fairness as a family goes through a divorce in Pennsylvania. It will be mandatory for a judge to state their rationale for reaching a decision on the record. This helps parents better understand a judge’s thoughts regarding the conclusion of a child custody decision.
Under the new law, if the custodial parent (the parent who has primary physical custody of a child) wishes to move, he or she will be required to give the other parent an opportunity to object. The law has also been reworded with stronger language to state that neither a mother nor a father should be assumed automatically to be the more suitable custodial parent. Father’s rights groups have often felt that presumption lies with the mother. These groups have actively campaigned for the presumption of joint custody, but the proposal was not included in the revisions of the law.
Also, part of the new law is that it is now mandatory that “guardian ad litem attorneys” present written reports to judges about how criminal convictions of members of a child’s household should be evaluated. Guardian ad litem attorneys are occasionally appointed by judges in complex divorce cases. In addition, there are now more factors that judges will need to reflect on when granting parental custody of a child. These include sibling relationships, parental alcohol and drug use, stability in the child’s life, who will likely support contact with the other parent, and more. The new law will also permit judges to demand that both parents present a parenting plan, which can help keep the focus on a child’s needs as well as streamline the legal process.
During any child custody case in Pennsylvania, there are many factors that need to be taken into account. Anyone in Pennsylvania who wishes to gain custody of their child should consult with an experienced Philadelphia child custody lawyer who can help them understand their legal rights and what options are available. For more information, contact The Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz by calling 610-645-0100 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about your legal rights as a parent in Pennsylvania.