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New and upcoming changes to PA child custody laws

According to the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Act 21 of 2018 allows grandparents to fill in as legal guardians in certain situations. One of the biggest reasons for this in the state is the sweeping effects of the opioid crisis. Statistics from last year claim that 103,000 children in Pennsylvania live with a relative other than their parents. Meanwhile, 88,000 grandparents are caring for their grandchildren.

The change in law makes it easier for grandparents to seek temporary or permanent custody of children. However, many grandparents are still unaware of this. To help educate more of these guardians about their rights, the PBA and more than two dozen county bar associations launched a campaign.

Soon, another change to child custody laws may follow. According to ABC News 27, this new law would address the problem of what happens when a parent does not follow custody orders. The House 437 bill would make it possible for parents to receive make-up time, when one parent prevented the other from spending time with the child.

Currently, there are no adequate provisions in place to address this problem. At the first offense, the offending parent receives light punishment, if any. The second time, the judge may order that the offending parent pay attorney fees for the plaintiff, who brought the case to court. However, beyond that, judges may only continue to make threats.

While the bill may seem fair, there are people who oppose it. They believe that far from being intentionally vindictive, a parent may violate custodial agreements to protect children from an abusive ex. Ultimately, this is something judges may need to determine before ordering make-up time.

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