Superior Court Busy With Custody Issues in 2009

April 2010Articles Philadelphia Bar Reporter

Jurisdiction, grandparents’ rights and mental health records were just some of the custody issues decided by the Pennsylvania Superior Court in 2009. The Family Law Section’s Custody Committee reported on these cases at the Section’s March 1 meeting. The presenters were Michael Bertin, Elaine Smith, Kristine Calalang, John Zurzola and Lee Schwartz.

A record hearing is required in a jurisdictional dispute involving a determination of the home state of a child who is 6 months old or less. Bouzos-Reilly v. Reilly, 980 A.2d 643 (Pa. Super. 2009). Under the UCCJEA, 23 Pa.C.S.A. §5402, “home state” is the state in which a child lived for at least six consecutive months immediately preceding the commencement of a custody proceeding. In Bouzos-Reilly, the father challenged jurisdiction in a custody action involving a 6-month-old child, who had resided in Pennsylvania for three months, and in New York prior thereto. The Pennsylvania judge conferred by phone with the New York judge, after which the Pennsylvania court granted the father’s motion to dismiss the custody action. The Superior Court reversed and remanded the case for a full hearing to determine whether mother’s move to Pennsylvania was indefinite or temporary.