WHAT IF I AM SEEKING A CHILD CUSTODY ORDER BUT I HAVE A HISTORY OF CRIMINAL OR ABUSIVE BEHAVIOR?

Pennsylvania law requires that ever person who files a child custody action complete and file a Criminal Record Abuse History Verification with the custody action. You will need to disclose certain criminal or abuse history concerning yourself and any other adult living in your household. A blank verification form must be attached to the Custody Complaint or Petition and served on the other party for their completion as well. The opposing party must also file with the court a verification regarding certain criminal or abuse history about themselves and any adult living in their household. All parties are required to file and serve updated verifications five days prior to trial.

The judge, conference officer, conciliator, or other appointed individual must conduct an initial evaluation to determine whether the existence of a criminal or abuse history or either party or a party’s household member poses a threat to the child and whether counseling is necessary. The initial evaluation shall not be conducted by a mental health professional. The court has authority after the initial evaluation to order further evaluation or counseling by a mental health professional if the court determines it is necessary. If it is in the best interests of the child, the court is permitted to enter a temporary custody order pending the party’s or household member’s evaluation and / or counseling.

If you have a child custody order in place or you are considering seeking custody of a child and you or a household member have a criminal or abuse history, you should seek experienced counsel to evaluate your situation and advise you on how to proceed in your child custody case.

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