Pennsylvania bill would promote equality in child custody law

Regional News

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A bill in Pennsylvania’s state House aims to give more separated or divorced parents equal custody time with their children.

House Bill 1397 would require judges who do not rule for a 50/50 custody arrangement to submit a written reason for doing so. That could include things like evidence of abuse or neglect.

​​Supporters believe children do best if both parents share in the day-to-day responsibilities of raising a child.

​​”House Bill 1397 would create the presumption that between 40 and 60 percent of a child’s time should be spent with each parent,” said Rep. Sue Helm (R-Dauphin/Lebanon), the bill’s primary sponsor. “Such an arrangement would be in the child’s best interest.”​

​Supporters say only about 15% of custody cases end with equal parenting rights.​​

Those against the bill say equal custody can affect a child’s schedule, due to them being moved back and forth between households. They also say the current law allows judges to tailor each case toward the child’s best interest.​​

“Our focus currently remains on the child. If House Bill 1397 becomes our law, our evolution is going to freeze right in its tracks and it’ll be worse. We’re actually going to go backward,” said Michael Bertin, chair of the Family Law Section of the Pennsylvania Bar Association.​​

House Bill 1397 is currently in the House Judiciary Committee.​

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