We have all heard the story of the evil step-mother, and when it comes to custody cases in Pennsylvania, often times one parent's new "paramour" causes tension and leads to litigation. Sometimes, as a result of hurt feelings, lingering resentment or lack of closure, one parent will use the other parent's new relationship as a scape-goat for the problems with custody and co-parenting. However, with the holiday season kicking into high gear, it is almost inevitable that people who have begun new relationships will want to introduce their new significant others to their families. This includes their children.
Recently a court in Massachusetts ruled that a rapist had the right to seek custody of the child conceived from the crime. Although it should be noted that this decision does not mean that the rapist will obtain custody of the child, the idea of having to go to court and fight for your rights against the the person who attacked you is a concern of people in Pennsylvania too. In Pennsylvania, the legislature has debated multiple laws to prevent or restrict rapists from obtaining custody of their children. Currently in Pennsylvania the parental rights of a rapist can be terminated if you are able to prove that a rape occurred to conceive the Child. However, there is no law officially barring a rapist from gaining custody of the product of their crime unless you are able to prove that a rape occurred.
As noted above, however, allowing a rapist to have rights to seek custody of a child does not in and of itself allow a rapist to have custody of the child. Even if they are permitted into the court system to seek custody of the child, the Best Interest of the Child would still apply, which means any criminal record or abuse that one parent has would be considered by the court. Because the standard of proof in Pennsylvania family court is the preponderance of the evidence, there is less of a burden to prove that these events occurred than there would be in a criminal court. Also, one of the things that the court takes into consideration when making a custody decision is the criminal record of both parents. Although this is not one of the statutory custody factors, that court requires that each parent submit a criminal and abuse history affidavit for themselves and their household, which requires them to disclose whether they have been convicted or plead guilty to any of thirty crimes that the legislature has determined may pose a threat to to children. If you have any further questions regarding this issue, please feel free to contact our Pittsburgh office today!
It's the most wonderful time of the year, or so they say. However, as we all know, often even in the most functional families, the holiday season causes tension. In the case of newly separated parents in Pennsylvania and around the country, the holidays can lead to increased conflict and hurt feelings. Parents will often selfishly attempt to withhold custody from the other parent during the holidays to get back at the other parent without thinking about the fact that their focus should be on what is best for their children, especially during the holidays. Although most final court orders will cover how the holidays are divided between the parties, many interim court orders do not. You might be surprised how many emergency motions are presented before judges in Allegheny County and across the state seeking some kind of custody for the holidays. This is why at our office, we encourage our clients to think about holiday custody in advance and even to make their own arrangements regarding custody. Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind when considering holiday custody arrangements:
We have all heard the headlines, the heroin epidemic in Western Pennsylvania is getting more and more severe. Most people are in agreement that a parent who is in the active stages of addiction should not be allowed to exercise unsupervised custody. However, many people are lucky enough to recover from their addiction through the help of rehabilitation and therapy. These circumstances lead to many significant questions. If someone's custody was suspended during their addiction or rehabilitation, when or how should it be reinstated? How do you plan in advance for a possible relapse? How supportive should you be of someone's recovery while still being aware that relapse is possible? How do you discuss these issues with the children?
Last week, we posted about the new change to the custody laws with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision in D.P. v. G.J.P.. This opinion overturned the portion of the grandparent custody statute that allowed grandparents to have standing to seek partial custody of their grandchildren in cases when parents were separated for at least six months.
As Pittsburgh Custody Lawyers, it is part of our job to remain up-to-date to evolving laws that impact our client's custody rights. In Pennsylvania, many grandparents are afforded the right by law to file for partial or supervised physical custody of their grandchildren. Recently, the statute providing these rights, 23 Pa. C.S.A. Section 5325, was considered and evaluated by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
We have all heard the stories of people getting fired or reprimanded at work for what they post on social media. However, it's often still surprising to the general public how what you post on social media can be used against you. Even though some people seem to forget about the social part of social media. Many forget that everything or almost everything you post on social media websites is public or semi public and can be used against you in court.
It's that time of year again! With school picnics and yearbook distribution, children are being released from the daily drudgery of early mornings and homework. At or around Memorial Day each year, children celebrate the end of another school year and all the possibility of what summer brings with it. Summer gives children the opportunity to go on vacations, visit family, try new outside activities and go to summer camp. Summer tends to be a period of transition and change for most children, and this can be complicated even more so for children with separated parents. Often children who are part of a custody dispute experience double the demands on their time as other children, which can be stressful even in the relaxing summer months. In these cases, it is important for parents to work together with their attorneys to craft an appropriate and workable custody schedule.
Invariably, when a custody matter has to be heard by the court, at least one party is going to be unhappy with the outcome. Generally speaking, if one disagrees with a court order, the method by which to redress the complaints is to ask the court to reconsider the order, or to take an appeal of the order. If one fails to do either of these within a specified period of time after the order is entered, then one loses the ability to raise his or her complaints with the order.