On May 6, HB 1397 was introduced in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The primary sponsor is Rep. Susan C. Helm who represents parts of Dauphin and Lebanon counties. The bill seeks to amend various sections of Title 23 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes that relate to child custody. The most significant of those changes are to 23 Pa. C.S.A. Section 5322 and Section 5327, such that the concepts of “primary” and “partial” physical custody would be eliminated in favor of “equal parenting time.” Equal parenting time is defined as, “As close as practicable to 50% of time spent with each parent, but in no case exceed 60% of time with either parent.”

Under HB 1397, the current language of 23 Pa. C.S.A. Section 5327(a), stating that there is no presumption that custody should be awarded to a particular parent is replaced by, “A presumption, rebuttable by clear and convincing evidence, that shared physical and legal custody and equal parenting time is in the best interest of the child.” The bill goes on to state that, “If a deviation from equal parenting time is warranted, the court shall order a parenting time schedule that maximizes the time each parent has with the child, to the extent consistent with the child’s best interest.”

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