December was a busy month for the Superior Court, which issued over a dozen Pennsylvania family law related rulings last month. However, as often happens with family court matters, only two of these opinions were precedential, one involved child custodyand the other involved paternity testing.
E.R. v. J.N.B.- In this case, the Court addressed a challenge to the lower court’s grant of primary custody to Mother. Although the bulk of this case dealt with procedural issues involving disqualification of counsel and service, the central family law question in this matter involved the courts consideration of Father’s previous arrest for endangering the welfare of a child in New York State. Upon review of the trial court record, the Superior Court determined that the trial court had correctly considered all of the custody factors in making its determination that Mother should be the primary custodian of the child.
M.L. v. J.G.M.- In this case, Mother appealed a trial court order granting Father’s request for paternity blood tests. The parties were married at the time that Mother gave birth to the child. The parties separated and subsequently divorced six years later. Father conducted store bought paternity test and concluded he was not the child’s biological father. At that time, he filed a petition to terminate support and asked that a psychological evaluation be conducted to determine the emotional connection between him and the child to rebut the presumption of paternity by estoppel. The trial court granted Father’s motion for paternity testing prior to making a determination of whether paternity by estoppel applied. The Superior Court held that this was an error and that the trial court is required to conduct a “searching analysis” into the relationship between the putative Father and child before granting paternity tests.