An Overview of Recent Changes to the Pennsylvania Custody Statute-Part II

Continued From Part I

Parenting Plan

The act sets forth that the court may require a "parenting plan" be submitted by each party. The act sets forth in detail the contents of such a plan. In essence, it is each party's proposed custody arrangement. It includes details regarding legal custody decisions such as diet, medical, schooling, activities, etc. It also calls for detailed physical custody explanations including drop-off/pickup locations, transportation, delays, holidays, summer vacation, etc.

Access To Records And Information

As a general rule, the act sets forth that a party granted sole or shared legal custody shall be provided access to medical, dental, religious and school records of the child as well as the address of the child and any other party. Access to records is not determined by either party's physical custody schedule.

Relocation

As a general rule any custodial party that intends to relocate must notify all other custodial parties at least 60 days prior to the proposed relocation or within 10 days of the date that the relocation party first learns of the proposed relocation. It also sets forth all of the information that the court will consider in making the determination. This includes the nature, quality, extent of involvement and duration of the child's relationship with the party proposing the relocation and the non-relocating party, siblings and other significant persons in the child's life; the age developmental stage, needs of the child and the likely impact the relocation will have on the child's physical, educational and emotional development; the feasibility of preserving the relationship between the non-relocating party and the child through suitable custody arrangements; the child's preference; whether there is an established pattern of conduct by either party to promote or thwart the relationship of the child and the other party; whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life for the party seeking the relocation; whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life of the child; the reasons and motivation of each party for seeking or opposing the relocation; the past or present abuse committed by a party or member of a party's household and; any other factor affecting the best interest of the child.

The relocation party must include a form counter-affidavit that the other party can use to object to the relocation. The act provides a detailed procedure including a default in the event that the non-relocating party fails to respond to proper notice.

Conclusion

The legislature has attempted to codify many of the procedures used to determine the custodial relationship of a child and his or her parents and grandparents. This will surely result in some confusion and litigation but overall it should improve the system. If you wish to discuss these changes and their effect on your custodial situation, please feel to contact my office.