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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77779 Find in a Library
Title: Child Custody - Child Snatching - A Guide for the General Practitioner
Journal: Pennsylvania Bar Association Quarterly  Volume:52  Issue:1  Dated:(January 1981)  Pages:54-60
Author(s): E A Bertin
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 7
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The impact on child snatching cases of Pennsylvania's 1980 consolidation of its child custody laws is examined and illustrated by recent judicial decisions.
Abstract: The Judiciary Act Repealer Act (JARA) Consolidation Act passed in 1980 represents Pennsylvania's firm stand against all child snatching and forces parents back into the courts. When there is no outstanding custody decree, both parents living with minor children in the same household have custody. Numerous problems arise when one parent moves out of the home, takes the children, and then files for custody in the same county or in a different jurisdiction. The Act tries to resolve these conflicts by establishing three major jurisdictional bases. First, the home State or county is defined as the place where the child has lived with a parent for at least 6 consecutive months prior to the action. In addition, a significant contacts provision considers the child's roots in a community. Finally, the State or county can assume jurisdiction if the child is abandoned, abused, or dependent. Thus, a mother who takes a child to another State while the father remains in Pennsylvania for 6 months and files for custody must return to that State to litigate the case. The Act's applications to child snatching are demonstrated in the classic case of In the Matter of D.L.S. and J.L.S. where the Pennsylvania court invoked both the home State and significant contacts provisions to retain jurisdiction. In cases reported so far, Pennsylvania has also refused to assume jurisdiction over modifications of outstanding custody decrees of a different country or State. This stance has been based on a strict construction of a section of the Act titled 'Jurisdiction Declined by Reason of Conduct.' However, a court recently declined jurisdiction by citing that it was an inconvenient forum in which to make a custody determination as allowed by another provision in the Act. The courts' attitudes are consistent with the Act's original purposes, which were to avoid jurisdictional competition and prevent shifting of children from State to State. Over 20 footnotes are included.
Index Term(s): Child Abduction; Child custody; Judicial decisions; Pennsylvania; State laws
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