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D.P. v. G.J.P.: Mere separation of parents is insufficient grounds to give grandparents standing to force custody dispute

Posted by on Sep 10, 2016 in Civil, Constitutional Provisions, Family Law | 0 comments

The fourteenth amendment’s due process clause requires “that the custody, care and nurture of the child reside first in the parents,” (quoting Prince v. Mass, 321 U.S. 158, 166 (1944)), and giving third parties–including grandparents–standing to initiate a custody battle before the courts invokes strict scrutiny. 23 Pa.C.S. § 5322 previously purported to give such standing to grandparents and great-grandparents when the parents had been separated for six months or more, presumably on the basis that such separation made the parents...

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Friday round-up – 9/9/16

Posted by on Sep 9, 2016 in Round-ups | 0 comments

This week’s Court news is mostly about Sprague v. Cortes. CBS-Philly efficiently summarizes the deadlock, while Angela Couloumbis at gives a more in-depth discussion of the present status of the case, and of the Plaintiffs’ efforts to keep the challenge alive. Meanwhile, an editorial in The Inquirer criticizes Justice Baer’s opinion in the case, and urges the Commonwealth Court to rule in favor of re-writing the question. On the other side of the issue, State Rep. Kate Harper (R-Montgomery) offers this thoughtful...

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Cortes v. Sprague: Ambiguous Ballot Question Splits the Court

Posted by on Sep 2, 2016 in Civil, Constitutional Provisions, Elections | 0 comments

Pennsylvania’s courts have been the site of an unusual amount of unfolding drama this year, from the sordid tale of Bill Cosby’s fall from grace to the strange fight over taped depositions that turned into a question of SCOPA quorums in Dougherty v. Heller. But Friday’s ruling that an ambiguous ballot question does not violate the Pennsylvania Constitution has been one of the most bitterly lamented of the year. For the past two years, the General Assembly has been moving through the slow and methodical process of voting and re-voting for a...

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In re Adoption of MRD and TMD: Twin Exceptions fail to authorize adoption of Twins

Posted by on Aug 29, 2016 in Civil, Family Law | 0 comments

A Father leaves a Mother shortly before she learns she’s pregnant. With almost no exception, the Father has no contact with his Twin Children for the next eight years until he gets married and suddenly files for custody. The Mother, who has raised the Twins with their maternal Grandfather, wants to terminate the Father’s rights to the Twins to avoid a custody battle, and so Grandfather agrees to “Adopt” the children with her. But the Adoption Statute isn’t designed to help avoid a Custody fight; it’s designed to allow a child to “bond” the...

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