WHEREAS,Senate Bill 1260, Printer's No. 1651 proposes the repeal of Section 4346 and Chapter 53 of Title 23, and the amendment of Title 23 by adding Chapter 53 (Custody Generally) and Chapter 54 (Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement);
WHEREAS, these statutory changes would, inter alia, expand the definition of custody awards; delineate factors a court will and will not consider when awarding custody; clarify which individuals have standing to seek various custody rights and to participate in a custody action; set forth the procedure and factors a court will examine when relocation is an issue in custody disputes; permit parties to seek counsel fees in custody actions; clarify the presumption in favor of one parent when a third party is involved; and adopt the provisions of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act;
WHEREAS, Senate Bill 1260 would provide important clarification and expansion to the existing custody law in Pennsylvania, including providing a cogent procedure for parties to follow when seeking to relocate or to oppose a proposed relocation; strengthening the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act by providing important enforcement remedies, including the addition of temporary emergency jurisdiction in the Commonwealth to protect a child when the child, sibling or parent of the child is subjected to or threatened with mistreatment or abuse;
WHEREAS, this proposed law is far superior to the existing statute because it provides further protection to the child, provides a coherent procedural blueprint in custody cases, specifically relocation cases, and expands the definition of which parties have standing to seek custody or participate in custody disputes, which directly enhances the best interests of the child;
WHEREAS, notwithstanding the improvements which Senate Bill 1260 can make to custody law, there are certain provisions within Senate Bill 1260 which may need correction and/or clarification;
WHEREAS, Section 5324 should be revised to make it clear that this section does not pertain to intact families, but only to situations where one parent is deceased, the parents' marriage is dissolved or the parents are separated, and that standing for such parties will be permitted if the relationship is in the best interests of the child and does not interfere with the parent-child relationship;
WHEREAS, Section 5324(3)(i) should be revised to allow a party who resided with an infant of less than 12 months old for the entire length of the child's life to file for any form of physical custody, legal custody or visitation;
WHEREAS, Section 5324(3)(ii) should be stricken as it would force parties to initiate litigation and dissuade parties from pursuing other ways to resolve custody disputes immediately after a party stops living with the child at issue;
WHEREAS, Section 5325(a)(1) should be revised to make it clear that adults who have standing to file for partial custody or visitation must be related to the deceased parent by blood, adoption or marriage;
WHEREAS, Section 5330(3) should be revised to include the "sex of a party" among the list of factors upon which the Court is not to base a custody decision; and
WHEREAS, Section 5337(g)should be revised to include, as one of the factors to consider in relocation disputes, "the present and past abuse committed by a party or member of the party's household
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Philadelphia Bar Association supports the enactment of Senate Bill 1260, Printer's No. 1651, with the following amendments:
- · "Section 5324 shall only apply to situations where one parent is deceased, the parent's marriage is dissolved or the parties are separated. Standing under this section shall be permitted provided that the relationship between the child and the person seeking standing is in the best interests of the child and does not interfere with the parent-child relationship."
- · "Section 5324 (3):An adult who has: (i) resided with the child for a period of at least 12 consecutive months or the life of the child, the lesser of the two, excluding brief temporary absences of the child from the principal residence of that adult; (ii) developed a significant relationship with the child; and (iii) regularly performed parental duties on behalf of the child: (A) with the permission or acquiescence of at least one of the child's parents; and (B) primarily for reasons other than financial compensation."
- · "Section 5325(a)(1): Where the parent of the child is deceased, an adult who is related to both the child and the deceased parent by blood, adoption or marriage."
- · "Section 5330(3): The race, religion, sex, ethnic background or sexual orientation of a party."
- · "Section 5337(g)(9): The present and past abuse committed by a party or member of the party's household; (g)(10) Any other factor affecting the best interest of the child."
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Philadelphia Bar Association authorizes the Chancellor to take all necessary steps, including contacting appropriate members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate regarding this Association's conditional support for this legislation subject to the provisions set forth being clarified and/or corrected.PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: APRIL 25, 2002