The Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee December 9 hearing on House Bill 1397.

From the testimony of Stephen Meehan, a former House Judiciary Legislative Analyst and a Volunteer Chairman for the Pennsylvania Affiliate of the National Parents Organization.

“Today, Pennsylvania has more than 48,000 new child custody cases filed, into a
pipeline of cases, that average 2 years in that pipeline, managed on a “case by
case” basis, with a nebulous concept of “children’s best interests”. This “interest” is
interpreted in ar many different ways as there are Judges. The average cost is $250
per hour for lawyers, not including other assigned industry “experts” that advise these very busy Courts.

Today, the result of our County Non-Custodial Court “factories” produce 48,000 in 2016,
as last reported by our Courts. Legally Disabled Parents, with 200,000 immediately
impacted family members including the children, grandparents, next spouses, and
siblings of each of these parents. That is at least 250,000 disgruntled citizens each
year. We are a very large constituency.

We believe that parents need help in “de-coupling” and transitioning to two equal
homes, as opposed to a legal contest for dominance in legal status.
We believe, that when the LAW treats parenting status, the same as it treats all other
marital assets to be split equally, conflict will be reduced, litigation costs will be reduced,
violence would be reduced, but the children would gain children by receiving the correct
message that both Parents matter.

We believe the following ‘top ten”, most common problems with Family Law would be
reduced or eliminated if “Equality” was the norm, and “primary custody” was the
exception.

Problems:

  1. Ordered Parental Absence of law-abiding parents
  2. Legal implications of being labeled a “non-custodial parent” being assigned debt,
    suffering financial penalties in tax status, credit status, professional licensure,
    and risk of loss of liberty upon default.
  3. A system that provides a ruthless collection service free of charge to the other
    parent, but continued litigation for physical custody enforcement for the other
    assigned by the same document.
  4. A logical result of parental marginalization and alienation from the child, enabling
    one parent to “erase” the other, and their entire extended family.
  5. S. Court validation that ONE “primary parent” matters more, thus creating and
    perpetuating a myth that citizens must adapt to, that is clearly contrary to our
    basic Constitutional concepts of “equality” and “liberty” to raise one’s child.
  6. Encourages competition where there should be none, rather than require and
    reward sharing.
  7. Provides financial incentive to Order the absence/restrict one parents’ presence
    in the form of support, tax status, and federal matching funds to the Courts and
    local/State governments via Title lV, and a $50 Billion industry of dependent
    lawyers and court advisors.
  8. Causes unnecessary childhood trauma, and all its vast and long term effects on
    the children, families, and society.
  9. Provides a lower standard of evidence than is provided to common accused
    criminals, reverses burdens of proof.
  10. Gives Judiciary too broad discretion without sufficient findings and rationale
    upon which to challenge, and results in lack of “certainty” that has recently been
    afforded to Grand Parents in Pennsylvania.