The term “parental alienation” refers to a child’s unwarranted dislike or animosity toward one parent. Proponents say the situation arises during or after divorce, when one parent has more control and encourages this behavior. To help prevent the unfair consequences of parental alienation, the National Parents Organization is advocating for the passing of two Pennsylvania child custody bills.

House Bill #443

House Bill #443 would amend Title 23 (Domestic Relations) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, which involves penalties for parents who do not comply with a child custody order.

Currently, a party who knowingly fails to comply with a custody order may be held in contempt.  Punishments could be any of the following:

  • Imprisonment/probation for up to six months
  • A fine up to $500
  • An order for license non-renewal, suspension, or denial
  • Counsel fees and costs

The proposed amendment calls for an addition of the punishments for noncompliance. If passed, the law would include a temporary modification of the physical custody schedule. The child would then receive “compensatory parenting time to make up for lost time that the child would otherwise have spent with the party who brought the contempt action.” Legislators referred House Bill to the Judiciary in February 2017.

House Bill 1349

Currently, Pennsylvania court can award either sole custody or joint custody to a child’s parents. A parent with sole custody exclusively holds the child’s physical and legal rights. On the other hand, parents with joint custody share the decision-making responsibilities and physical control of their children.

Called the Parental Rights Protection Act, House Bill 1349 would strengthen a parent’s right to joint custody of his or her child. In contested cases, the Commonwealth would then need to provide “clear and convincing evidence” to prevent a parent from sharing custody. Legislators referred House Bill 1349 to the Committee on Children and Youth in May 2017.

These Pennsylvania child custody bills could level the playing field in some divorce situations if they become laws. No matter your situation, if you’re a parent going through divorce, the thought of upcoming custody arrangements may be overwhelming. We welcome you to call our firm with any questions.