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TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

TITLE 23

DOMESTIC RELATIONS

 

PART I.  GENERAL PROVISIONS

 

Chapter 1.  Preliminary Provisions

 

§ 101.  Short title of title.

§ 102.  Definitions.

 

PART II.  MARRIAGE

 

Chapter 11.  Preliminary Provisions

 

§ 1101.  Short title of part.

§ 1102.  Definitions.

§ 1103.  Common-law marriage.

§ 1104.  Forms.

§ 1105.  Fees.

§ 1106.  Records and statistics.

 

Chapter 13.  Marriage License

 

§ 1301.  Marriage license required.

§ 1302.  Application for license.

§ 1303.  Waiting period after application.

§ 1304.  Restrictions on issuance of license.

§ 1305.  Examination and tests for syphilis (Repealed).

§ 1306.  Oral examination.

§ 1307.  Issuance of license.

§ 1308.  Judicial review of refusal to issue license.

§ 1309.  Filing applications and consent certificates.

§ 1310.  Duration and form of license.

 

Chapter 15.  Marriage Ceremony

 

§ 1501.  Form of marriage certificates.

§ 1502.  Forms where parties perform ceremony.

§ 1503.  Persons qualified to solemnize marriages.

§ 1504.  Returns of marriages.

 

Chapter 17.  Miscellaneous Provisions Relating to Marriage

 

§ 1701.  Decree that spouse of applicant is presumed decedent.

§ 1702.  Marriage during existence of former marriage.

§ 1703.  Marriage within degree of consanguinity.

§ 1704.  Marriage between persons of the same sex.

 

Chapter 19.  Abolition of Actions for Alienation of Affections and Breach of Promise to Marry

 

§ 1901.  Actions for alienation of affections abolished.

§ 1902.  Actions for breach of promise to marry abolished.

§ 1903.  Purpose of chapter.

§ 1904.  Filing or threatening to file actions prohibited.

§ 1905.  Instruments executed in satisfaction of abolished claims prohibited.

 

PART III.  ADOPTION

 

Chapter 21.  Preliminary Provisions

 

§ 2101.  Short title of part.

§ 2102.  Definitions.

 

Chapter 23.  Jurisdiction and Parties

 

Subchapter A.  Jurisdiction

 

§ 2301.  Court.

§ 2302.  Venue.

 

Subchapter B.  Parties

 

§ 2311.  Who may be adopted.

§ 2312.  Who may adopt.

§ 2313.  Representation.

 

Chapter 25.  Proceedings Prior to Petition to Adopt

 

Subchapter A.  Voluntary Relinquishment

 

§ 2501.  Relinquishment to agency.

§ 2502.  Relinquishment to adult intending to adopt child.

§ 2503.  Hearing.

§ 2504.  Alternative procedure for relinquishment.

§ 2504.1. Confidentiality.

§ 2505.  Counseling.

 

Subchapter B.  Involuntary Termination

 

§ 2511.  Grounds for involuntary termination.

§ 2512.  Petition for involuntary termination.

§ 2513.  Hearing.

 

Subchapter C.  Decree of Termination

 

§ 2521.  Effect of decree of termination.

 

Subchapter D.  Reports and Investigation

 

§ 2530.  Home study and preplacement report.

§ 2531.  Report of intention to adopt.

§ 2532.  Filing of report.

§ 2533.  Report of intermediary.

§ 2534.  Exhibits.

§ 2535.  Investigation.

 

Subchapter E.  Pennsylvania Adoption Cooperative Exchange

 

§ 2551.  Definitions.

§ 2552.  Pennsylvania Adoption Cooperative Exchange.

§ 2553.  Registration of children.

§ 2554.  Responsibilities of PACE.

§ 2555.  Responsibilities of public and private agencies.

§ 2556.  Related activities of agencies unaffected.

§ 2557.  Regulations and staff.

§ 2558.  Retroactive application of subchapter.

 

Chapter 27.  Petition for Adoption

 

Subchapter A.  Petition

 

§ 2701.  Contents of petition for adoption.

§ 2702.  Exhibits.

 

Subchapter B.  Consents

 

§ 2711.  Consents necessary to adoption.

§ 2712.  Consents not naming adopting parents.

§ 2713.  When other consents not required.

§ 2714.  When consent of parent not required.

 

Subchapter C.  Hearings

 

§ 2721.  Notice of hearing.

§ 2722.  Place of hearing.

§ 2723.  Attendance at hearing.

§ 2724.  Testimony and investigation.

§ 2725.  Religious belief.

 

Subchapter D.  Voluntary Agreement for Continuing Contact

 

§ 2731.  Purpose of subchapter.

§ 2732.  Definitions.

§ 2733.  Parties to agreement.

§ 2734.  Consent of a child.

§ 2735.  Filing and approval of an agreement.

§ 2736.  Failure to comply.

§ 2737.  Modification of agreement.

§ 2738.  Enforcement of agreement.

§ 2739.  Discontinuance of agreement.

§ 2740.  Procedures for facilitating and resolving agreements involving a county child welfare agency.

§ 2741.  Counsel.

§ 2742.  Costs.

 

Chapter 29.  Decrees and Records

 

Subchapter A.  General Provisions

 

§ 2901.  Time of entry of decree of adoption.

§ 2902.  Requirements and form of decree of adoption.

§ 2903.  Retention of parental status.

§ 2904.  Name of adoptee.

§ 2905.  Impounding of proceedings and access to records (Repealed).

§ 2906.  Docket entries.

§ 2907.  Certificate of adoption.

§ 2908.  Foreign decree of adoption.

§ 2909.  Medical history information (Repealed).

§ 2910.  Penalty for unauthorized disclosure.

 

Subchapter B.  Records and Access to Information

 

§ 2911.  Definitions.

§ 2912.  Combined request for information.

§ 2913.  Reasonable fees.

§ 2914.  Immunity from liability.

§ 2915.  Court and agency records.

§ 2916.  Attorney records.

 

Subchapter C.  Information Registry

 

§ 2921.  Establishment of registry.

§ 2922.  Informational material.

§ 2923.  Filing information with registry.

§ 2924.  Who may request information from registry.

§ 2925.  Providing information from registry.

§ 2926.  Rules and regulations.

 

Subchapter D.  Release of Information

 

§ 2931.  Access to information.

§ 2932.  Nonidentifying information.

§ 2933.  Identifying information.

§ 2934.  Statement of medical and social history information.

§ 2935.  Confidentiality.

§ 2936.  Refusal to search.

§ 2937.  Original birth record.

§ 2938.  Rules and regulations.

 

PART IV.  DIVORCE

 

Chapter 31.  Preliminary Provisions

 

§ 3101.  Short title of part.

§ 3102.  Legislative findings and intent.

§ 3103.  Definitions.

§ 3104.  Bases of jurisdiction.

§ 3105.  Effect of agreement between parties.

§ 3106.  Premarital agreements.

 

Chapter 33.  Dissolution of Marital Status

 

Subchapter A.  General Provisions

 

§ 3301.  Grounds for divorce.

§ 3302.  Counseling.

§ 3303.  Annulment of void and voidable marriages.

§ 3304.  Grounds for annulment of void marriages.

§ 3305.  Grounds for annulment of voidable marriages.

§ 3306.  Proceedings to determine marital status.

§ 3307.  Defenses.

§ 3308.  Action where defendant suffering from mental disorder.

§ 3309.  General appearance and collusion.

 

Subchapter B.  Procedure

 

§ 3321.  Hearing by master.

§ 3322.  Jury trial.

§ 3323.  Decree of court.

 

Subchapter C.  Attacks Upon Decrees

 

§ 3331.  Limitations on attacks upon decrees.

§ 3332.  Opening or vacating decrees.

§ 3333.  Res judicata and estoppel.

 

Chapter 35.  Property Rights

 

§ 3501.  Definitions.

§ 3502.  Equitable division of marital property.

§ 3503.  Effect of divorce on property rights generally.

§ 3504.  Disposition of property after termination of marriage.

§ 3505.  Disposition of property to defeat obligations.

§ 3506.  Statement of reasons for distribution.

§ 3507.  Division of entireties property between divorced persons.

§ 3508.  Conveyance of entireties property to divorced spouse.

 

Chapter 37.  Alimony and Support

 

§ 3701.  Alimony.

§ 3702.  Alimony pendente lite, counsel fees and expenses.

§ 3703.  Enforcement of arrearages.

§ 3704.  Payment of support, alimony and alimony pendente lite.

§ 3705.  Enforcement of foreign decrees.

§ 3706.  Bar to alimony.

§ 3707.  Effect of death of either party.

 

Chapter 39.  Mediation

 

§ 3901.  Mediation programs.

§ 3902.  Fees and costs.

§ 3903.  Review of programs.

§ 3904.  Existing programs.

 

PART V.  SUPPORT, PROPERTY AND CONTRACTS

 

Chapter 41.  General Provisions

 

§ 4101.  Liability for debts contracted before marriage.

§ 4102.  Proceedings in case of debts contracted for necessaries.

§ 4103.  (Reserved).

§ 4104.  Right of married person to separate earnings.

§ 4105.  Loans between married persons.

§ 4106.  Construction of chapter.

 

Chapter 43.  Support Matters Generally

 

Subchapter A.  General Provisions

 

§ 4301.  Scope of chapter.

§ 4302.  Definitions.

§ 4303.  Information to consumer reporting agency.

§ 4304.  Cooperation of Commonwealth agencies (Repealed).

§ 4304.1. Cooperation of government and nongovernment agencies.

§ 4305.  General administration of support matters.

§ 4306.  Duties of Title IV-D attorney.

§ 4307.  State income tax intercept.

§ 4308.  Lottery winnings intercept.

§ 4308.1. Collection of overdue support from monetary awards.

§ 4309.  Publication of delinquent support obligors.

 

Subchapter B.  Support

 

§ 4321.  Liability for support.

§ 4322.  Support guideline.

§ 4323.  Support of emancipated child.

§ 4324.  Inclusion of spousal medical support.

§ 4325.  Payment of order of support.

§ 4326.  Mandatory inclusion of child medical support.

§ 4327.  Postsecondary educational costs.

 

Subchapter C.  Proceedings Generally

 

§ 4341.  Commencement of support actions or proceedings.

§ 4342.  Expedited procedure.

§ 4343.  Paternity.

§ 4344.  Contempt for failure of obligor to appear.

§ 4345.  Contempt for noncompliance with support order.

§ 4346.  Contempt for noncompliance with visitation or partial custody order (Repealed).

§ 4347.  Security for attendance or performance.

§ 4348.  Attachment of income.

§ 4349.  Consolidation of proceedings.

§ 4350.  Effect of appeal.

§ 4351.  Costs and fees.

§ 4352.  Continuing jurisdiction over support orders.

§ 4353.  Duty to report.

§ 4354.  Willful failure to pay support order.

§ 4355.  Denial or suspension of licenses.

 

Subchapter D.  Proceedings Against Entireties Property

 

§ 4361.  Execution of support order against entireties property.

§ 4362.  Plaintiff's share of proceeds of sale.

§ 4363.  Trustee to distribute proceeds of sale.

§ 4364.  Credit to plaintiff who purchases property.

§ 4365.  Rights of divorced person in entireties property sold for support.

§ 4366.  Other enforcement remedies preserved.

 

Subchapter E.  Title IV-D Program and Related Matters

 

§ 4371.  Definitions.

§ 4372.  Establishment of Title IV-D program.

§ 4373.  Administration of Title IV-D program.

§ 4374.  State disbursement unit.

§ 4375.  Access to records.

§ 4376.  Central registry.

§ 4377.  Power to expedite support cases.

§ 4378.  Assistance recipients to seek support.

§ 4379.  Cooperation required.

§ 4380.  Enforcement of cooperation requirements.

§ 4381.  Garnishment of wages of Commonwealth employees.

 

Subchapter F.  New Hire Reporting

 

§ 4391.  Definitions.

§ 4392.  Employer reporting.

§ 4393.  Use of information.

§ 4394.  Guidelines.

§ 4395.  Confidentiality.

§ 4396.  Penalties.

 

Chapter 45.  Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Orders (Repealed)

 

§ 4501 - § 4540 (Repealed).

 

Chapter 46.  Support of the Indigent

 

§ 4601.  Scope of chapter.

§ 4602.  Definitions.

§ 4603.  Relatives' liability; procedure.

§ 4604.  Property liable for expenses.

§ 4605.  Recovery of money.

§ 4606.  Guardian.

 

PART VI.  CHILDREN AND MINORS

 

Chapter 51.  General Provisions

 

§ 5101.  Attainment of full age.

§ 5102.  Children declared to be legitimate.

§ 5103.  Acknowledgment and claim of paternity.

§ 5104.  Blood tests to determine paternity.

§ 5105.  Fingerprinting of children.

 

Chapter 52.  Uniform Child Abduction Prevention

 

§ 5201.  Scope of chapter.

§ 5202.  Definitions.

§ 5203.  Cooperation and communication among courts.

§ 5204.  Actions for abduction prevention measures.

§ 5205.  Jurisdiction.

§ 5206.  Contents of petition.

§ 5207.  Factors to determine risk of abduction.

§ 5208.  Provisions and measures to prevent abduction.

§ 5209.  Warrant to take physical custody of child.

§ 5210.  Duration of abduction prevention order.

§ 5211.  Uniformity of application and construction.

§ 5212.  Relation to Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act.

 

Chapter 53.  Child Custody

 

§ 5321.  Scope of chapter.

§ 5322.  Definitions.

§ 5323.  Award of custody.

§ 5324.  Standing for any form of physical custody or legal custody.

§ 5325.  Standing for partial physical custody and supervised physical custody.

§ 5326.  Effect of adoption.

§ 5327.  Presumption in cases concerning primary physical custody.

§ 5328.  Factors to consider when awarding custody.

§ 5329.  Consideration of criminal conviction.

§ 5329.1. Consideration of child abuse and involvement with protective services.

§ 5330.  Consideration of criminal charge.

§ 5331.  Parenting plan.

§ 5332.  Informational programs.

§ 5333.  Counseling as part of order.

§ 5334.  Guardian ad litem for child.

§ 5335.  Counsel for child.

§ 5336.  Access to records and information.

§ 5337.  Relocation.

§ 5338.  Modification of existing order.

§ 5339.  Award of counsel fees, costs and expenses.

§ 5340.  Court-appointed child custody health care or behavioral health practitioners.

 

Chapter 54.  Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement

 

Subchapter A.  General Provisions

 

§ 5401.  Short title of chapter.

§ 5402.  Definitions.

§ 5403.  Proceedings governed by other law.

§ 5404.  Application to Native American tribes.

§ 5405.  International application of chapter.

§ 5406.  Effect of child custody determination.

§ 5407.  Priority.

§ 5408.  Notice to persons outside Commonwealth.

§ 5409.  Appearance and limited immunity.

§ 5410.  Communication between courts.

§ 5411.  Taking testimony in another state.

§ 5412.  Cooperation between courts; preservation of records.

 

Subchapter B.  Jurisdiction

 

§ 5421.  Initial child custody jurisdiction.

§ 5422.  Exclusive, continuing jurisdiction.

§ 5423.  Jurisdiction to modify determination.

§ 5424.  Temporary emergency jurisdiction.

§ 5425.  Notice; opportunity to be heard; joinder.

§ 5426.  Simultaneous proceedings.

§ 5427.  Inconvenient forum.

§ 5428.  Jurisdiction declined by reason of conduct.

§ 5429.  Information to be submitted to court.

§ 5430.  Appearance of parties and child.

 

Subchapter C.  Enforcement

 

§ 5441.  Definitions.

§ 5442.  Enforcement under Hague Convention.

§ 5443.  Duty to enforce.

§ 5444.  Temporary visitation.

§ 5445.  Registration of child custody determination.

§ 5446.  Enforcement of registered determination.

§ 5447.  Simultaneous proceedings.

§ 5448.  Expedited enforcement of child custody determination.

§ 5449.  Service of petition and order.

§ 5450.  Hearing and order.

§ 5451.  Warrant to take physical custody of child.

§ 5452.  Costs, fees and expenses.

§ 5453.  Recognition and enforcement.

§ 5454.  Appeals.

§ 5455.  Role of prosecutor or public official.

§ 5456.  Role of law enforcement.

§ 5457.  Costs and expenses.

 

Subchapter D.  Intrastate Application

 

§ 5471.  Intrastate application.

 

Subchapter E.  Miscellaneous Provisions

 

§ 5481.  Application and construction.

§ 5482.  Severability.

 

Chapter 55.  Liability for Tortious Acts of Children

 

§ 5501.  Definitions.

§ 5502.  Liability of parents.

§ 5503.  Establishing liability in criminal or juvenile proceedings.

§ 5504.  Establishing liability in civil proceedings.

§ 5505.  Monetary limits of liability.

§ 5506.  Double recovery for same injury prohibited.

§ 5507.  Indemnity or contribution from child prohibited.

§ 5508.  Liability of parent not having custody or control of child.

§ 5509.  Other liability of parent or child unaffected.

 

Chapter 56.  Standby Guardianship

 

Subchapter A.  Preliminary Provisions

 

§ 5601.  Short title of chapter.

§ 5602.  Definitions.

§ 5603.  Scope.

 

Subchapter B.  General Provisions

 

§ 5611.  Designation.

§ 5612.  Petition for approval of a designation.

§ 5613.  Authority of standby guardian.

§ 5614.  Revocation.

§ 5615.  Conflicting documents.

§ 5616.  Bond.

 

PART VII.  ABUSE OF FAMILY

 

Chapter 61.  Protection from Abuse

 

§ 6101.  Short title of chapter.

§ 6102.  Definitions.

§ 6103.  Jurisdiction.

§ 6104.  Full faith and credit and foreign protection orders.

§ 6105.  Responsibilities of law enforcement agencies.

§ 6106.  Commencement of proceedings.

§ 6107.  Hearings.

§ 6108.  Relief.

§ 6108.1. Return of relinquished firearms, other weapons and ammunition and additional relief.

§ 6108.2. Relinquishment for consignment sale, lawful transfer or safekeeping.

§ 6108.3. Relinquishment to third party for safekeeping.

§ 6108.4. Registry or database of firearm ownership.

§ 6108.5. Penalties for release of information.

§ 6109.  Service of orders.

§ 6110.  Emergency relief by minor judiciary.

§ 6111.  Domestic violence counselor/advocate.

§ 6112.  Disclosure of addresses.

§ 6113.  Arrest for violation of order.

§ 6113.1. Private criminal complaints for violation of order or agreement.

§ 6114.  Contempt for violation of order or agreement.

§ 6114.1. Civil contempt or modification for violation of an order or agreement.

§ 6115.  Reporting abuse and immunity.

§ 6116.  Confidentiality.

§ 6117.  Procedure and other remedies.

§ 6118.  Full faith and credit (Repealed).

§ 6119.  Immunity.

§ 6120.  Inability to pay.

§ 6121.  Warrantless searches.

§ 6122.  Construction.

 

Chapter 63.  Child Protective Services

 

Subchapter A.  Preliminary Provisions

 

§ 6301.  Short title of chapter.

§ 6302.  Findings and purpose of chapter.

§ 6303.  Definitions.

§ 6304.  Exclusions from child abuse.

§ 6305.  Electronic reporting.

§ 6306.  Regulations.

 

Subchapter B.  Provisions and Responsibilities for Reporting Suspected Child Abuse

 

§ 6311.  Persons required to report suspected child abuse.

§ 6311.1. Privileged communications.

§ 6312.  Persons encouraged to report suspected child abuse.

§ 6313.  Reporting procedure.

§ 6314.  Photographs, medical tests and X-rays of child subject to report.

§ 6315.  Taking child into protective custody.

§ 6316.  Admission to private and public hospitals.

§ 6317.  Mandatory reporting and postmortem investigation of deaths.

§ 6318.  Immunity from liability.

§ 6319.  Penalties.

§ 6320.  Protection from employment discrimination.

 

Subchapter C.  Powers and Duties of Department

 

§ 6331.  Establishment of Statewide database.

§ 6332.  Establishment of Statewide toll-free telephone number.

§ 6333.  Continuous availability of department.

§ 6334.  Disposition of complaints received.

§ 6334.1. Responsibility for investigation.

§ 6335.  Access to information in Statewide database.

§ 6336.  Information in Statewide database.

§ 6337.  Disposition and expunction of unfounded reports and general protective services reports.

§ 6338.  Disposition of founded and indicated reports.

§ 6338.1. Expunction of information of perpetrator who was under 18 years of age when child abuse was committed.

§ 6339.  Confidentiality of reports.

§ 6340.  Release of information in confidential reports.

§ 6341.  Amendment or expunction of information.

§ 6342.  Studies of data in records.

§ 6343.  Investigating performance of county agency.

§ 6343.1. Citizen review panels.

§ 6344.  Information relating to prospective child-care personnel.

§ 6344.1. Information relating to family day-care home residents.

§ 6344.2. Information relating to other persons having contact with children.

§ 6345.  Audits by Attorney General.

§ 6346.  Cooperation of other agencies.

§ 6347.  Reports to Governor and General Assembly.

§ 6348.  Regulations.

§ 6349.  Penalties.

 

Subchapter C.1.  Students in Public and Private Schools (Repealed)

 

§ 6351 - § 6353.4 (Repealed)

 

Subchapter C.2.  Background Checks for Employment in Schools (Repealed)

 

§ 6354 - § 6358 (Repealed)

 

Subchapter D.  Organization and Responsibilities of Child  Protective Service

 

§ 6361.  Organization for child protective services.

§ 6362.  Responsibilities of county agency for child protective services.

§ 6363.  County plan for protective services.

§ 6364.  Purchasing services of other agencies.

§ 6365.  Services for prevention, investigation and treatment of child abuse.

§ 6366.  Continuous availability to receive reports.

§ 6367.  Reports to department and coroner.

§ 6368.  Investigation of reports.

§ 6369.  Taking child into protective custody (Repealed).

§ 6370.  Voluntary or court-ordered services; findings of child abuse.

§ 6371.  Rehabilitative services for child and family.

§ 6372.  Protecting well-being of children maintained outside home.

§ 6373.  General protective services responsibilities of county agency.

§ 6374.  Principles and goals of general protective services.

§ 6375.  County agency requirements for general protective services.

§ 6376.  Appeals with respect to general protective services.

§ 6377.  Caseloads.

§ 6378.  Purchase of services.

 

Subchapter E.  Miscellaneous Provisions

 

§ 6381.  Evidence in court proceedings.

§ 6382.  Guardian ad litem for child in court proceedings (Repealed).

§ 6383.  Education and training.

§ 6384.  Legislative oversight.

§ 6385.  Reimbursement to county agencies.

§ 6386.  Mandatory reporting of children under one year of age.

 

Chapter 65.  Newborn Protection

 

§ 6501.  Short title of chapter.

§ 6502.  Definitions.

§ 6503.  Nonliability.

§ 6504.  Health care providers accepting newborns.

§ 6504.1. Police officers accepting newborns.

§ 6505.  Reporting acceptance of newborns.

§ 6506.  Failure to report acceptance of newborns.

§ 6507.  Immunity.

§ 6508.  Duty of hospital.

§ 6509.  Duties of department.

 

Chapter 67.  Domestic and Sexual Violence Victim Address Confidentiality

 

§ 6701.  Short title of chapter.

§ 6702.  Definitions.

§ 6703.  Address Confidentiality Program.

§ 6704.  Persons eligible to apply.

§ 6705.  Application and certification process.

§ 6706.  Cancellation, expiration and voluntary withdrawal.

§ 6707.  Agency use of designated address.

§ 6708.  Disclosure of actual address.

§ 6709.  Waiver process.

§ 6710.  Emergency disclosure.

§ 6711.  Penalties.

§ 6712.  Rules and regulations.

§ 6713.  Civil immunity.

 

PART VIII.  UNIFORM INTERSTATE FAMILY SUPPORT

 

Chapter 71.  General Provisions

 

§ 7101.  Short title of part and definitions.

§ 7102.  Remedies cumulative.

 

Chapter 72.  Jurisdiction

 

Subchapter A.  Extended Personal Jurisdiction

 

§ 7201.  Bases for jurisdiction over nonresident.

§ 7202.  Procedure when exercising jurisdiction over nonresident.

 

Subchapter B.  Proceedings Involving Two or More States

 

§ 7203.  Initiating and responding tribunal of this State.

§ 7204.  Simultaneous proceedings in another state.

§ 7205.  Continuing, exclusive jurisdiction.

§ 7206.  Enforcement and modification of support order by tribunal having continuing jurisdiction.

 

Subchapter C.  Reconciliation of Multiple Orders

 

§ 7207.  Recognition of controlling child support order.

§ 7208.  Multiple child support orders for two or more obligees.

§ 7209.  Credit for payments.

 

Chapter 73.  Civil Provisions of General Application

 

§ 7301.  Proceedings under this part.

§ 7302.  Action by minor parent.

§ 7303.  Application of law of this State.

§ 7304.  Duties of initiating tribunal.

§ 7305.  Duties and powers of responding tribunal.

§ 7306.  Inappropriate tribunal.

§ 7307.  Duties of support enforcement agency.

§ 7308.  Supervisory duty.

§ 7309.  Private counsel.

§ 7310.  Duties of department.

§ 7311.  Pleadings and accompanying documents.

§ 7312.  Nondisclosure of information in exceptional circumstances.

§ 7313.  Costs and fees.

§ 7314.  Limited immunity of petitioner.

§ 7315.  Nonparentage as defense.

§ 7316.  Special rules of evidence and procedure.

§ 7317.  Communications between tribunals.

§ 7318.  Assistance with discovery.

§ 7319.  Receipt and disbursement of payments.

 

Chapter 74.  Establishment of Support Order

 

§ 7401.  Petition to establish support order.

 

Chapter 75.  Direct Enforcement of Order of Another State Without Registration

 

§ 7501.  Employer's receipt of income-withholding order of another state.

§ 7501.1. Employer's compliance with income-withholding order of another state.

§ 7501.2. Compliance with multiple income-withholding orders.

§ 7501.3. Immunity from civil liability.

§ 7501.4. Penalties for noncompliance.

§ 7501.5. Contest by obligor.

§ 7502.  Administrative enforcement of orders.

 

Chapter 76.  Enforcement and Modification of Support Order After Registration

 

Subchapter A.  Registration and Enforcement of Support Order

 

§ 7601.  Registration of order for enforcement.

§ 7602.  Procedure to register order for enforcement.

§ 7603.  Effect of registration for enforcement.

§ 7604.  Choice of law.

 

Subchapter B.  Contest of Validity or Enforcement

 

§ 7605.  Notice of registration of order.

§ 7606.  Procedure to contest validity or enforcement of registered order.

§ 7607.  Contest of registration or enforcement.

§ 7608.  Confirmed order.

 

Subchapter C.  Registration and Modification of Child Support Order

 

§ 7609.  Procedure to register child support order of another state for modification.

§ 7610.  Effect of registration for modification.

§ 7611.  Modification of child support order of another state.

§ 7612.  Recognition of order modified in another state.

§ 7613.  Jurisdiction to modify child support order of another state when individual parties reside in this State.

§ 7614.  Notice to issuing tribunal of modification.

 

Chapter 77.  Determination of Parentage

 

§ 7701.  Proceeding to determine parentage.

 

Chapter 78.  Interstate Rendition

 

§ 7801.  Grounds for rendition.

§ 7802.  Conditions of rendition.

 

Chapter 79.  Miscellaneous Provisions

 

§ 7901.  Uniformity of application and construction.

 

PART VIII-A.  INTRASTATE FAMILY SUPPORT

 

Chapter 81.  General Provisions

 

§ 8101.  Short title of part and definitions.

§ 8102.  Scope.

§ 8103.  Remedies cumulative.

 

Chapter 82.  Jurisdiction

 

§ 8201.  Continuing, exclusive jurisdiction.

§ 8202.  Recognition of support orders.

§ 8203.  Credit for payments.

 

Chapter 83.  Civil Provisions of General Application

 

§ 8301.  Proceedings under this part.

§ 8302.  Action by minor parent.

§ 8303.  Duties of initiating tribunal.

§ 8304.  Duties and powers of responding tribunal.

§ 8305.  Inappropriate tribunal.

§ 8306.  Duties of support enforcement agency.

§ 8307.  Supervisory duty.

§ 8308.  Private counsel.

§ 8309.  Nondisclosure of information in exceptional circumstances.

§ 8310.  Nonparentage not a defense.

§ 8311.  Special rules of evidence and procedure.

§ 8312.  Assistance with discovery.

§ 8313.  Costs and fees.

 

Chapter 84.  Enforcement and Modification of Support Order After Registration

 

Subchapter A.  Registration of Support Order

 

§ 8401.  Registration of order.

§ 8402.  Procedure to register order.

 

Subchapter B.  Contest of Validity or Enforcement

 

§ 8411.  Notice of registration of order.

§ 8412.  Procedure to contest validity of registered order.

§ 8413.  Contest of registration or enforcement.

§ 8414.  Confirmed order.

§ 8415.  Effect of a confirmed order.

 

PART IX.  MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS (Repealed)

 

Chapter 83.  Legitimacy of Children (Repealed)

 

§ 8302 - § 8303 (Repealed).

23c101h

 

 

TITLE 23

DOMESTIC RELATIONS

 

Part

   I.  General Provisions

  II.  Marriage

 III.  Adoption

  IV.  Divorce

   V.  Support, Property and Contracts

  VI.  Children and Minors

 VII.  Abuse of Family

VIII.  Uniform Interstate Family Support

VIII-A. Intrastate Family Support

  IX.  Miscellaneous Provisions (Repealed)

 

Enactment.  Unless otherwise noted, the provisions of Title 23 were added October 15, 1980, P.L.934, No.163, effective January 1, 1981.

 

 

PART I

GENERAL PROVISIONS

 

Chapter

1.  Preliminary Provisions

 

Enactment.  Part I was added December 19, 1990, P.L.1240, No.206, effective in 90 days.

 

 

CHAPTER 1

PRELIMINARY PROVISIONS

 

Sec.

101.  Short title of title.

102.  Definitions.

 

Enactment.  Chapter 1 was added December 19, 1990, P.L.1240, No.206, effective in 90 days.

23c101s

§ 101.  Short title of title.

This title shall be known and may be cited as the Domestic Relations Code.

23c102s

§ 102.  Definitions.

(a)  General rule.--Subject to additional definitions contained in subsequent provisions of this title which are applicable to specific provisions of this title, the following words and phrases when used in this title shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"Clerk of court" or "clerk."  The personnel of the office of the prothonotary or clerk of the division of the court having jurisdiction over the matter.

"Court."  The court or magisterial district judge having jurisdiction over the matter under Title 42 (relating to judiciary and judicial procedure) exercised as provided in Title 42 or as otherwise provided or prescribed by law.

(b)  Title 42 definitions.--Subject to additional definitions contained in subsequent provisions of this title which are applicable to specific provisions of this title, words and phrases not defined in subsection (a) which are defined in 42 Pa.C.S. § 102 (relating to definitions) when used in this title shall have the meanings given to them in Title 42 unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

23c102v

(Nov. 30, 2004, P.L.1618, No.207, eff. 60 days)

 

2004 Amendment.  Act 207 amended the def. of "court" in subsec. (a). See sections 28 and 29 of Act 207 in the appendix to this title for special provisions relating to applicability and construction of law.

23c1101h

 

 

PART II

MARRIAGE

 

Chapter

  11.  Preliminary Provisions

  13.  Marriage License

  15.  Marriage Ceremony

  17.  Miscellaneous Provisions Relating to Marriage

19.  Abolition of Actions for Alienation of Affections and Breach of Promise to Marry

 

Enactment.  Part II was added December 19, 1990, P.L.1240, No.206, effective in 90 days.

1998 Partial Repeal.  Section 13 of Act 127 of 1998 provided that Part II is repealed insofar as it is inconsistent with Act 127.

 

 

CHAPTER 11

PRELIMINARY PROVISIONS

 

Sec.

1101.  Short title of part.

1102.  Definitions.

1103.  Common-law marriage.

1104.  Forms.

1105.  Fees.

1106.  Records and statistics.

 

Enactment.  Chapter 11 was added December 19, 1990, P.L.1240, No.206, effective in 90 days.

23c1101s

§ 1101.  Short title of part.

This part shall be known and may be cited as the Marriage Law.

23c1102s

§ 1102.  Definitions.

The following words and phrases when used in this part shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"Department."  The Department of Health of the Commonwealth.

"Marriage."  A civil contract by which one man and one woman take each other for husband and wife.

"Marriage license" or "license."  A license to marry issued under this part.

23c1102v

(Oct. 16, 1996, P.L.706, No.124, eff. 60 days)

 

1996 Amendment.  Act 124 added the def. of "marriage."

23c1103s

§ 1103.  Common-law marriage.

No common-law marriage contracted after January 1, 2005, shall be valid. Nothing in this part shall be deemed or taken to render any common-law marriage otherwise lawful and contracted on or before January 1, 2005, invalid.

23c1103v

(Nov. 23, 2004, P.L.954, No.144, eff. 60 days)

23c1104s

§ 1104.  Forms.

Marriage license applications, consent certificates, marriage licenses and other necessary forms shall be supplied at the expense of the county and shall be uniform throughout this Commonwealth as prescribed by the department. Statements of physicians and laboratories relative to examinations for syphilis shall be prepared and furnished by the department.

23c1105s

§ 1105.  Fees.

(a)  General rule.--The fee to be charged for issuing a marriage license or declaration and for returns thereof to the department shall be $3 of which $2.50 shall be retained by the county wherein the license is issued and 50¢ shall be remitted to the Commonwealth.

(b)  Transmitting Commonwealth moneys.--All moneys collected under this section for the Commonwealth shall be transmitted to the State Treasurer no later than the tenth day of the following month.

23c1105v

 

Fees.  Section 19 of the Marriage Law from which this section was derived was repealed December 19, 1990, P.L.1240, No.206, and amended December 20, 1990, P.L.1471, No.222, and that section remains effective under 1 Pa.C.S. § 1952 (relating to effect of separate amendments on code provisions enacted by same General Assembly) as a result of the 1990 amendment.

23c1106s

§ 1106.  Records and statistics.

(a)  Filing transcript or record.--The county shall furnish the department, not later than the 15th day of each month, with a transcript or record of each marriage license issued and each return of the celebration of a marriage received or filed during the preceding calendar month.

(b)  Forms.--The transcripts or records required to be furnished shall be made on forms prepared and furnished by the department and shall contain such information as the department may require.

(c)  Confidentiality.--The records furnished to the department under this section shall not be open to public inspection except as authorized by the regulations of the Advisory Health Board.

(d)  Statistics.--The department shall from time to time compile and publish statistics derived from records furnished under this section.

23c1301h

 

 

CHAPTER 13

MARRIAGE LICENSE

 

Sec.

1301.  Marriage license required.

1302.  Application for license.

1303.  Waiting period after application.

1304.  Restrictions on issuance of license.

1305.  Examination and tests for syphilis (Repealed).

1306.  Oral examination.

1307.  Issuance of license.

1308.  Judicial review of refusal to issue license.

1309.  Filing applications and consent certificates.

1310.  Duration and form of license.

 

Enactment.  Chapter 13 was added December 19, 1990, P.L.1240, No.206, effective in 90 days.

23c1301s

§ 1301.  Marriage license required.

(a)  General rule.--No person shall be joined in marriage in this Commonwealth until a marriage license has been obtained.

(b)  Place of marriage ceremony.--A license issued under this part shall authorize a marriage ceremony to be performed in any county of this Commonwealth.

(c)  Identity of applicants.--Prior to issuance of the license, the person issuing the license must be satisfied as to the identity of both of the applicants.

23c1302s

§ 1302.  Application for license.

(a)  General rule.--No marriage license shall be issued except upon written and verified application made by both of the parties intending to marry.

(b)  Contents.--The application shall contain the following:

(1)  The full name of the applicants.

(2)  The occupation, birthplace, residence and age of the applicants. An applicant intending to marry who is a program participant in the Address Confidentiality Program under Chapter 67 (relating to domestic and sexual violence victim address confidentiality) may use the substitute address designated by the Office of Victim Advocate pursuant to Chapter 67 as the address of their residence.

(3)  Whether the marriage contemplated is the first, second or other marriage of an applicant.

(4)  A statement that neither of the applicants is afflicted with transmissible disease.

(5)  The full name, residence, occupation and birthplace of the parents of each applicant, including the maiden name of the mother of each applicant. An applicant may use the substitute address designated by the Office of Victim Advocate pursuant to Chapter 67 for a parent's residence if:

(i)  the applicant is a program participant in the Address Confidentiality Program under Chapter 67 and the applicant resides with the applicant's parents; or

(ii)  the applicant's parent is a program participant in the Address Confidentiality Program under Chapter 67.

(6)  Any other facts necessary to determine whether a legal impediment to the proposed marriage exists.

23c1302v

(Dec. 22, 1993, P.L.555, No.79, eff. 60 days; Nov. 30, 2004, P.L.1474, No.188, eff. 180 days)

23c1303s

§ 1303.  Waiting period after application.

(a)  General rule.--No marriage license shall be issued prior to the third day following the making of application therefor.

(b) Exceptions.--The court may authorize a license to be issued at any time after the making of the application in the following cases:

(1)  In case of emergency or extraordinary circumstances.

(2)  If an applicant is a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard or other reserve component of the armed forces of the United States and is called or ordered to active duty with the armed forces of the United States.

23c1303v

(Nov. 23, 2004, P.L.954, No.144, eff. 60 days)

 

Cross References.  Section 1303 is referred to in section 1307 of this title.

23c1304s

§ 1304.  Restrictions on issuance of license.

(a)  Examinations and tests for syphilis.--(Repealed).

(b)  Minors.--

(1)  No marriage license may be issued if either of the applicants for a license is under 16 years of age unless the court decides that it is to the best interest of the applicant and authorizes the issuance of the license.

(2)  No marriage license may be issued if either of the applicants is under 18 years of age unless the consent of the custodial parent or guardian of the applicant is personally given before the person issuing the license or is certified under the hand of the custodial parent or guardian attested by two adult witnesses and, in the latter case, the signature of the custodial parent or guardian is acknowledged before an officer authorized by law to take acknowledgments. When the minor has no guardian and a judge of the court is absent or not accessible for any reason, the office issuing the license may appoint a guardian pro hac vice for the minor.

(c)  Incompetent persons.--No marriage license may be issued if either of the applicants for a license is weak minded, insane, of unsound mind or is under guardianship as a person of unsound mind unless the court decides that it is for the best interest of the applicant and the general public to issue the license and authorizes the issuance of the license.

(d)  Persons under influence of alcohol or drugs.--No marriage license may be issued if, at the time of making application, either of the applicants is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

(e)  Marriage to relatives.--No marriage license may be issued to applicants within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity which are as follows:

A man may not marry his mother.

A man may not marry the sister of his father.

A man may not marry the sister of his mother.

A man may not marry his sister.

A man may not marry his daughter.

A man may not marry the daughter of his son or daughter.

A man may not marry his first cousin.

A woman may not marry her father.

A woman may not marry the brother of her father.

A woman may not marry the brother of her mother.

A woman may not marry her brother.

A woman may not marry her son.

A woman may not marry the son of her son or daughter.

A woman may not marry her first cousin.

23c1304v

(Dec. 22, 1993, P.L.555, No.79, eff. 60 days; June 25, 1997, P.L.331, No.35, eff. imd.)

 

1997 Repeal Note.  Act 35 repealed subsec. (a).

1993 Amendment.  Act 79 amended subsec. (b).

Cross References.  Section 1304 is referred to in sections 1306, 3304 of this title; section 1201 of Title 4 (Amusements); section 8204 of Title 74 (Transportation).

23c1305s

§ 1305.  Examination and tests for syphilis (Repealed).

23c1305v

 

1997 Repeal Note.  Section 1305 was repealed June 25, 1997, P.L.331, No.35, effective immediately.

23c1306s

§ 1306.  Oral examination.

(a)  General rule.--Each of the applicants for a marriage license shall appear in person and shall be examined under oath or affirmation as to:

(1)  The legality of the contemplated marriage.

(2)  Any prior marriage or marriages and its or their dissolution.

(3)  The restrictions set forth in section 1304 (relating to restrictions on issuance of license).

(4)  All the information required to be furnished on the application for license as prepared and approved by the department.

(b)  Exception.--If an applicant is unable to appear in person because of his active military service, the applicant shall be permitted to forward an affidavit, which verifies all of the information required under subsection (a), to the issuing authority.

(c)  Form.--The department shall develop and make available affidavit forms to be used by applicants under subsection (b).

(d)  Definition.--As used in this section, the term "active military service" means active service in any of the armed services or forces of the United States or this Commonwealth.

23c1306v

(Oct. 27, 2006, P.L.1192, No.126, eff. 60 days)

23c1307s

§ 1307.  Issuance of license.

The marriage license shall be issued if it appears from properly completed applications on behalf of each of the parties to the proposed marriage that there is no legal objection to the marriage. Except as provided by section 1303(b) (relating to waiting period after application), the license shall not be issued prior to the third day following the date of the most recent of the two applications therefor.

23c1308s

§ 1308.  Judicial review of refusal to issue license.

(a)  Certifying proceedings to court.--If the issuance of a marriage license is refused, upon request of the applicants, the proceedings shall immediately be certified to the court without formality or expense to the applicants.

(b)  Prompt hearing.--The application for a marriage license shall be heard by a judge of the court, without a jury, in court or in chambers at the earliest possible time.

23c1309s

§ 1309.  Filing applications and consent certificates.

The applications for marriage licenses and consent certificates shall be immediately filed and docketed as public records.

23c1310s

§ 1310.  Duration and form of license.

The marriage license shall not be valid for a longer period than 60 days from the date of issue and shall be in substantially the following form:

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

ss:

No.

County of (name)

To any person authorized by law to solemnize marriage:

You are hereby authorized to join together in holy state of matrimony, according to the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, (name) and (name).

Given under my hand and seal of the Court of Common Pleas of (name), at (city, borough or town), on (date).

Signed  

(Official Title)

23c1501h

 

 

CHAPTER 15

MARRIAGE CEREMONY

 

Sec.

1501.  Form of marriage certificates.

1502.  Forms where parties perform ceremony.

1503.  Persons qualified to solemnize marriages.

1504.  Returns of marriages.

 

Enactment.  Chapter 15 was added December 19, 1990, P.L.1240, No.206, effective in 90 days.

23c1501s

§ 1501.  Form of marriage certificates.

The marriage license shall have appended to it two certificates, numbered to correspond with the license (one marked original and one marked duplicate), which shall be in substantially the following form:

I hereby certify that on (date), at (city, borough or town), Pennsylvania, (name) and (name) were by me united in marriage, in accordance with license issued by the Court of Common Pleas of (name) numbered

Signed

(Title of person solemnizing marriage)

Address

23c1501v

 

Cross References.  Section 1501 is referred to in section 1502 of this title.

23c1502s

§ 1502.  Forms where parties perform ceremony.

(a)  Declaration of authorization.--In all cases in which the parties intend to solemnize their marriage by religious ceremony without officiating clergy, the marriage shall not take place until their right so to do is certified in a declaration in substantially the following form:

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

ss:

No.

County of (name)

To (name) and (name)

Legal evidence having been furnished to me, in accordance with law, this certifies that I am satisfied that there is no legal impediment to you joining yourselves together in marriage.

Signed

(Official Title)

(b)  Marriage certificates.--In lieu of the certificate set forth in section 1501 (relating to form of marriage certificates), there shall be appended to the declaration two certificates, numbered to correspond to the declaration, in the following form:

We hereby certify that on (date), we united ourselves in marriage, at (city, borough or town), County of (name), Pennsylvania, having first obtained from the Court of Common Pleas of (name) a declaration numbered that the court was satisfied that there was no existing legal impediment to our so doing.

Signed

Signed

We, the undersigned, were present at the solemnization of the marriage of (name) and (name), as set forth in the foregoing certificate.

Signed

Signed

23c1503s

§ 1503.  Persons qualified to solemnize marriages.

(a)  General rule.--The following are authorized to solemnize marriages between persons that produce a marriage license issued under this part:

(1)  A justice, judge or magisterial district judge of this Commonwealth.

(2)  A former or retired justice, judge or magisterial district judge of this Commonwealth who is serving as a senior judge or senior magisterial district judge as provided or prescribed by law; or not serving as a senior judge or senior magisterial district judge but meets the following criteria:

(i)  has served as a magisterial district judge, judge or justice, whether or not continuously or on the same court, by election or appointment for an aggregate period equaling a full term of office;

(ii)  has not been defeated for reelection or retention;

(iii)  has not been convicted of, pleaded nolo contendere to or agreed to an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition or other probation without verdict program relative to any misdemeanor or felony offense under the laws of this Commonwealth or an equivalent offense under the laws of the United States or one of its territories or possessions, another state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or a foreign nation;

(iv)  has not resigned a judicial commission to avoid having charges filed or to avoid prosecution by Federal, State or local law enforcement agencies or by the Judicial Conduct Board;

(v)  has not been removed from office by the Court of Judicial Discipline; and

(vi)  is a resident of this Commonwealth.

(3)  An active or senior judge or full-time magistrate of the District Courts of the United States for the Eastern, Middle or Western District of Pennsylvania.

(3.1)  An active, retired or senior bankruptcy judge of the United States Bankruptcy Courts for the Eastern, Middle or Western District of Pennsylvania who is a resident of this Commonwealth.

(4)  An active, retired or senior judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit who is a resident of this Commonwealth.

(5)  A mayor of any city or borough of this Commonwealth.

(5.1)  A former mayor of a city or borough of this Commonwealth who:

(i)  has not been defeated for reelection;

(ii)  has not been convicted of, pleaded nolo contendere to or agreed to an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition or other probation without verdict program relative to a misdemeanor or felony offense under the laws of this Commonwealth or an equivalent offense under the laws of the United States or any one of its possessions, another state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or a foreign nation;

(iii)  has not resigned the position of mayor to avoid having charges filed or to avoid prosecution by Federal, State or local law enforcement agencies;

(iv)  has served as a mayor, whether continuously or not, by election for an aggregate of a full term in office; and

(v)  is a resident of this Commonwealth.

(6)  A minister, priest or rabbi of any regularly established church or congregation.

(b)  Religious organizations.--Every religious society, religious institution or religious organization in this Commonwealth may join persons together in marriage when at least one of the persons is a member of the society, institution or organization, according to the rules and customs of the society, institution or organization.

(c)  Marriage license needed to officiate.--No person or religious organization qualified to perform marriages shall officiate at a marriage ceremony without the parties having obtained a marriage license issued under this part.

23c1503v

(June 22, 2000, P.L.443, No.59, eff. imd.; Nov. 30, 2004, P.L.1618, No.207, eff. 60 days; Dec. 1, 2004, P.L.1777, No.232, eff. 60 days; July 14, 2009, P.L.81, No.18, eff. imd.)

 

2004 Amendment.  See sections 28 and 29 of Act 207 in the appendix to this title for special provisions relating to applicability and construction of law.

23c1504s

§ 1504.  Returns of marriages.

(a)  General rule.--The original marriage certificate shall be signed by the person solemnizing the marriage and given to the parties contracting the marriage. The duplicate certificate shall be signed by the person or by a member of the religious society, institution or organization solemnizing the marriage and returned for recording within ten days to the court which issued the license.

(b)  Marriage performed by parties.--If the marriage was solemnized by the parties themselves, the original certificate shall be signed by the parties to the marriage, attested by two witnesses and retained by the parties contracting the marriage. The duplicate certificate shall be signed by the parties to the marriage, attested by the same two witnesses and returned for recording within ten days to the court issuing the license.

23c1701h

 

 

CHAPTER 17

MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS RELATING TO MARRIAGE

 

Sec.

1701.  Decree that spouse of applicant is presumed decedent.

1702.  Marriage during existence of former marriage.

1703.  Marriage within degree of consanguinity.

1704.  Marriage between persons of the same sex.

 

Enactment.  Chapter 17 was added December 19, 1990, P.L.1240, No.206, effective in 90 days.

23c1701s

§ 1701.  Decree that spouse of applicant is presumed decedent.

(a)  Finding of death.--When the spouse of an applicant for a marriage license has disappeared or is absent from the place of residence of the spouse without being heard of after diligent inquiry, the court, aided by the report of a master if necessary, upon petition of the applicant for a marriage license, may make a finding and decree that the absentee is dead and the date of death if notice to the absentee has been given as provided in subsection (d) and either of the applicants is and for one year or more prior to the application has been a resident of this Commonwealth.

(b)  Presumption from absence.--When the death of the spouse of an applicant for a marriage license is in issue, the unexplained absence from the last known place of residence and the fact that the absentee has been unheard of for seven years may be sufficient ground for finding that the absentee died seven years after the absentee was last heard from.

(c)  Exposure to specific peril.--The fact that an absentee spouse was exposed to a specific peril of death may be a sufficient ground for finding that the absentee died less than seven years after the absentee was last heard from.

(d)  Notice to absentee.--The court may require advertisement in any newspapers as the court, according to the circumstances of the case, deems advisable of the fact of the application for the marriage license, together with notice that, at a specified time and place, the court or a master appointed by the court will hear evidence concerning the alleged absence, including the circumstances and duration thereof.

(e)  Remarriage after decree of presumed death.--Even though the absentee spouse declared to be presumed dead is in fact alive, the remarriage of the spouse who has obtained a license to marry and a decree of presumed death of the former spouse shall be valid for all purposes as though the former marriage had been terminated by divorce, and all property of the presumed decedent shall be administered and disposed of as provided by Title 20 (relating to decedents, estates and fiduciaries).

23c1702s

§ 1702.  Marriage during existence of former marriage.

(a)  General rule.--If a married person, during the lifetime of the other person with whom the marriage is in force, enters into a subsequent marriage pursuant to the requirements of this part and the parties to the marriage live together thereafter as husband and wife, and the subsequent marriage was entered into by one or both of the parties in good faith in the full belief that the former spouse was dead or that the former marriage has been annulled or terminated by a divorce, or without knowledge of the former marriage, they shall, after the impediment to their marriage has been removed by the death of the other party to the former marriage or by annulment or divorce, if they continue to live together as husband and wife in good faith on the part of one of them, be held to have been legally married from and immediately after the date of death or the date of the decree of annulment or divorce.

(b)  False rumor of death of spouse.--Where a remarriage has occurred upon false rumor of the death of a former spouse in appearance well-founded but there has been no decree of presumed death, the remarriage shall be void and subject to annulment by either party to the remarriage as provided by section 3304 (relating to grounds for annulment of void marriages), and the returning spouse shall have cause for divorce as provided in section 3301 (relating to grounds for divorce).

(c)  Criminal penalties.--Where the remarriage was entered into in good faith, neither party to the remarriage shall be subject to criminal prosecution for bigamy.

23c1703s

§ 1703.  Marriage within degree of consanguinity.

All marriages within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity as set forth in this part are voidable, but, when any of these marriages have not been dissolved during the lifetime of the parties, the unlawfulness of the marriage shall not be inquired into after the death of either of the parties to the marriage.

23c1704s

§ 1704.  Marriage between persons of the same sex.

It is hereby declared to be the strong and longstanding public policy of this Commonwealth that marriage shall be between one man and one woman. A marriage between persons of the same sex which was entered into in another state or foreign jurisdiction, even if valid where entered into, shall be void in this Commonwealth.

23c1704v

(Oct. 16, 1996, P.L.706, No.124, eff. 60 days)

 

1996 Amendment.  Act 124 added section 1704.

23c1901h

 

 

CHAPTER 19

ABOLITION OF ACTIONS FOR ALIENATION OF AFFECTIONS

AND BREACH OF PROMISE TO MARRY

 

Sec.

1901.  Actions for alienation of affections abolished.

1902.  Actions for breach of promise to marry abolished.

1903.  Purpose of chapter.

1904.  Filing or threatening to file actions prohibited.

1905.  Instruments executed in satisfaction of abolished claims prohibited.

 

Enactment.  Chapter 19 was added December 19, 1990, P.L.1240, No.206, effective in 90 days.

23c1901s

§ 1901.  Actions for alienation of affections abolished.

(a)  General rule.--All civil causes of action for alienation of affections of husband or wife are abolished.

(b)  Exception.--Subsection (a) does not apply to cases where the defendant is a parent, brother or sister or a person formerly in loco parentis to the spouse of plaintiff.

23c1902s

§ 1902.  Actions for breach of promise to marry abolished.

All causes of action for breach of contract to marry are abolished.

23c1903s

§ 1903.  Purpose of chapter.

(a)  General rule.--No act done within this Commonwealth shall give rise, either within or without this Commonwealth, to a cause of action abolished by this chapter.

(b)  Contract to marry.--No contract to marry which is made within this Commonwealth shall give rise, either within or without this Commonwealth, to a cause of action for breach of the contract.

(c)  Intention of section.--It is the intention of this section to fix the effect, status and character of such acts and contracts and to render them ineffective to support or give rise to any such causes of action, either within or without this Commonwealth.

23c1904s

§ 1904.  Filing or threatening to file actions prohibited.

It is unlawful for a person, either as litigant or attorney, to file, cause to be filed, threaten to file or threaten to cause to be filed in a court in this Commonwealth any pleading or paper setting forth or seeking to recover upon any cause of action abolished or barred by this chapter whether the cause of action arose within or without this Commonwealth.

23c1905s

§ 1905.  Instruments executed in satisfaction of abolished claims prohibited.

(a)  Contracts and instruments void.--All contracts and instruments of every kind executed within this Commonwealth in payment, satisfaction, settlement or compromise of any claim or cause of action abolished or barred by this chapter, whether the claim or cause of action arose within or without this Commonwealth, are contrary to the public policy of this Commonwealth and void.

(b)  Execution and use prohibited.--It is unlawful to cause, induce or procure a person to execute a contract or instrument proscribed by this chapter, or cause, induce or procure a person to give, pay, transfer or deliver any money or thing of value in payment, satisfaction, settlement or compromise of any such claim or cause of action, or to receive, take or accept any such money or thing of value in such payment, satisfaction, settlement or compromise.

(c)  Actions to enforce prohibited.--It is unlawful to commence or cause to be commenced, either as litigant or attorney, in a court of this Commonwealth any proceeding or action seeking to enforce or recover upon a contract or instrument proscribed by this chapter, knowing it to be such, whether the contract or instrument was executed within or without this Commonwealth.

(d)  Exceptions.--This section does not apply to the payment, satisfaction, settlement or compromise of any causes of action which are not abolished or barred by this chapter or to the bona fide holder in due course of a negotiable instrument.

23c2101h

 

 

PART III

ADOPTION

 

Chapter

  21.  Preliminary Provisions

  23.  Jurisdiction and Parties

  25.  Proceedings Prior to Petition to Adopt

  27.  Petition for Adoption

  29.  Decrees and Records

 

Enactment.  Part III was added October 15, 1980, P.L.934, No.163, effective January 1, 1981.

Special Provisions in Appendix.  See section 3 of Act 163 of 1980 in the appendix to this title for special provisions relating to the applicability of Part III to pending proceedings.

 

 

CHAPTER 21

PRELIMINARY PROVISIONS

 

Sec.

2101.  Short title of part.

2102.  Definitions.

 

Enactment.  Chapter 21 was added October 15, 1980, P.L.934, No.163, effective January 1, 1981.

23c2101s

§ 2101.  Short title of part.

This part shall be known and may be cited as the "Adoption Act."

23c2102s

§ 2102.  Definitions.

The following words and phrases when used in this part shall have, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, the meanings given to them in this section:

"Adoptee."  An individual proposed to be adopted.

"Agency."  Any incorporated or unincorporated organization, society, institution or other entity, public or voluntary, which may receive or provide for the care of children, supervised by the Department of Public Welfare and providing adoption services in accordance with standards established by the department.

"Clerk."  The clerk of the division of the court of common pleas having jurisdiction over voluntary relinquishment, involuntary termination and adoption proceedings.

"Court."  The court of common pleas.

"Intermediary."  Any person or persons or agency acting between the parent or parents and the proposed adoptive parent or parents in arranging an adoption placement.

"Medical history information."  Medical records and other information concerning an adoptee or an adoptee's natural family which is relevant to the adoptee's present or future health care or medical treatment. The term includes:

(1)  otherwise confidential or privileged information provided that identifying contents have been removed pursuant to section 2909 (relating to medical history information); and

(2)  information about the natural parents which may be relevant to a potential hereditary or congenital medical problem.

"Newborn child."  A child who is six months of age or younger at the time of the filing of any petition pursuant to Chapter 25 (relating to proceedings prior to petition to adopt).

"Parent."  Includes adoptive parent.

23c2102v

(June 23, 1982, P.L.617, No.174, eff. 60 days; May 21, 1992, P.L.228, No.34, eff. 60 days; Dec. 20, 1995, P.L.685, No.76, eff. 60 days)

 

1995 Amendment.  Act 76 amended the def. of "medical history information."

1992 Amendment.  Act 34 added the def. of "newborn child."

References in Text.  Section 2909, referred to in this section, is repealed. The subject matter is now contained in section 3934 of this title.

23c2301h

 

 

CHAPTER 23

JURISDICTION AND PARTIES

 

Subchapter

   A.  Jurisdiction

   B.  Parties

 

Enactment.  Chapter 23 was added October 15, 1980, P.L.934, No.163, effective January 1, 1981.

 

 

SUBCHAPTER A

JURISDICTION

 

Sec.

2301.  Court.

2302.  Venue.

23c2301s

§ 2301.  Court.

The court of common pleas of each county shall exercise through the appropriate division original jurisdiction over voluntary relinquishment, involuntary termination and adoption proceedings.

23c2302s

§ 2302.  Venue.

Proceedings for voluntary relinquishment, involuntary termination and adoption may be brought in the court of the county:

(1)  Where the parent or parents or the adoptee or the person or persons who have filed a report of intention to adopt required by section 2531 (relating to report of intention to adopt) reside.

(2)  In which is located an office of an agency having custody of the adoptee or in the county where the agency having placed the adoptee is located.

(3)  With leave of court, in which the adoptee formerly resided.

23c2311h

 

 

SUBCHAPTER B

PARTIES

 

Sec.

2311.  Who may be adopted.

2312.  Who may adopt.

2313.  Representation.

23c2311s

§ 2311.  Who may be adopted.

Any individual may be adopted, regardless of his age or residence.

23c2312s

§ 2312.  Who may adopt.

Any individual may become an adopting parent.

23c2313s

§ 2313.  Representation.

(a)  Child.--The court shall appoint counsel to represent the child in an involuntary termination proceeding when the proceeding is being contested by one or both of the parents. The court may appoint counsel or a guardian ad litem to represent any child who has not reached the age of 18 years and is subject to any other proceeding under this part whenever it is in the best interests of the child. No attorney or law firm shall represent both the child and the adopting parent or parents.

(a.1)  Parent.--The court shall appoint counsel for a parent whose rights are subject to termination in an involuntary termination proceeding if, upon petition of the parent, the court determines that the parent is unable to pay for counsel or if payment would result in substantial financial hardship.

(b)  Payment of costs.--The court, in its discretion, may order all or part of the costs attendant to a proceeding under this part to be paid by the county wherein the case is heard, the adopting parents or apportioned to both, provided that if the adopting parents shall be ordered to bear all or a portion of the costs of this part that:

(1)  the court may direct that the payment of the fees or a portion thereof may be paid by a court ordered schedule of payments extending beyond the date of the involuntary termination hearing; and

(2)  the fee shall not exceed $150.

23c2313v

(June 23, 1982, P.L.617, No.174, eff. 60 days; May 21, 1992, P.L.228, No.34, eff. 60 days)

23c2501h

 

 

CHAPTER 25

PROCEEDINGS PRIOR TO PETITION TO ADOPT

 

Subchapter

   A.  Voluntary Relinquishment

   B.  Involuntary Termination

   C.  Decree of Termination

   D.  Reports and Investigation

   E.  Pennsylvania Adoption Cooperative Exchange

 

Enactment.  Chapter 25 was added October 15, 1980, P.L.934, No.163, effective January 1, 1981.

Cross References.  Chapter 25 is referred to in section 2102 of this title.

 

 

SUBCHAPTER A

VOLUNTARY RELINQUISHMENT

 

Sec.

2501.  Relinquishment to agency.

2502.  Relinquishment to adult intending to adopt child.

2503.  Hearing.

2504.  Alternative procedure for relinquishment.

2504.1. Confidentiality.

2505.  Counseling.

23c2501s

§ 2501.  Relinquishment to agency.

(a)  Petition.--When any child under the age of 18 years has been in the care of an agency for a minimum period of three days or, whether or not the agency has the physical care of the child, the agency has received a written notice of the present intent to transfer to it custody of the child, executed by the parent, the parent or parents of the child may petition the court for permission to relinquish forever all parental rights and duties with respect to their child.

(b)  Consents.--The written consent of a parent or guardian of a petitioner who has not reached 18 years of age shall not be required. The consent of the agency to accept custody of the child until such time as the child is adopted shall be required.

23c2501v

 

Cross References.  Section 2501 is referred to in sections 2503, 2521 of this title.

23c2502s

§ 2502.  Relinquishment to adult intending to adopt child.

(a)  Petition.--When any child under the age of 18 years has been for a minimum period of three days in the exclusive care of an adult or adults who have filed a report of intention to adopt required by section 2531 (relating to report of intention to adopt), the parent or parents of the child may petition the court for permission to relinquish forever all parental rights to their child.

(b)  Consents.--The written consent of a parent or guardian of a petitioner who has not reached 18 years of age shall not be required. The adult or adults having care of the child shall file a separate consent to accept custody of the child.

23c2502v

(Mar. 24, 2004, P.L.159, No.21, eff. 60 days)

 

2004 Amendment.  Act 21 amended subsec. (a). Section 2 of Act 21 provided that the amendment of subsec. (a) shall apply to adoptions which are initiated on or after the effective date of section 2.

Cross References.  Section 2502 is referred to in sections 2503, 2521 of this title.

23c2503s

§ 2503.  Hearing.

(a)  General rule.--Upon presentation of a petition prepared pursuant to section 2501 (relating to relinquishment to agency) or section 2502 (relating to relinquishment to adult intending to adopt child), the court shall fix a time for hearing which shall not be less than ten days after filing of the petition. The petitioner must appear at the hearing.

(b)  Notice.--

(1)  At least ten days' notice of the hearing shall be given to the petitioner, and a copy of the notice shall be given to the other parent, to the putative father whose parental rights could be terminated pursuant to subsection (d) and to the parents or guardian of a petitioner who has not reached 18 years of age.

(2)  The notice to the petitioner shall state the following:

"To:  (insert petitioner's name)

A petition has been filed asking the court to put an end to all rights you have to your child (insert name of child). The court has set a hearing to consider ending your rights to your child. That hearing will be held in (insert place, giving reference to exact room and building number or designation) on (insert date) at (insert time). Your presence is required at the hearing. You have a right to be represented at the hearing by a lawyer. You should take this paper to your lawyer at once. If you do not have a lawyer or cannot afford one, go to or telephone the office set forth below to find out where you can get legal help.

(Name)

(Address)

 

(Telephone number)"

(3)  The copy of the notice which is given to the putative father shall state that his rights may also be subject to termination pursuant to subsection (d) if he fails to file either an acknowledgment of paternity or claim of paternity pursuant to section 5103 (relating to acknowledgment and claim of paternity) and fails to either appear at the hearing for the purpose of objecting to the termination of his rights or file a written objection to such termination with the court prior to the hearing.

(c)  Decree.--After hearing, which shall be private, the court may enter a decree of termination of parental rights in the case of their relinquishment to an adult or a decree of termination of parental rights and duties, including the obligation of support, in the case of their relinquishment to an agency.

(d)  Putative father.--If a putative father will not file a petition to voluntarily relinquish his parental rights pursuant to section 2501 (relating to relinquishment to agency) or 2502 (relating to relinquishment to adult intending to adopt child), has been given notice of the hearing being held pursuant to this section and fails to either appear at that hearing for the purpose of objecting to termination of his parental rights or file a written objection to such termination with the court prior to the hearing and has not filed an acknowledgment of paternity or claim of paternity pursuant to section 5103, the court may enter a decree terminating the parental rights of the putative father pursuant to subsection (c).

(e)  Right to file personal and medical history information.--At the time the decree of termination is transmitted to the parent whose rights are terminated, the court shall advise that parent, in writing, of his or her continuing right to place and update personal and medical history information, whether or not the medical condition is in existence or discoverable at the time of adoption, on file with the court and with the Department of Public Welfare pursuant to  Subchapter B of Chapter 29 (relating to records and access to information).

23c2503v

(June 23, 1982, P.L.617, No.174, eff. 60 days; May 21, 1992, P.L.228, No.34, eff. 60 days; Dec. 20, 1995, P.L.685, No.76, eff. 60 days; Oct. 27, 2010, P.L.961, No.101, eff. 180 days)

 

2010 Amendment.  Act 101 amended subsec. (e).

Cross References.  Section 2503 is referred to in section 2505 of this title.

23c2504s

§ 2504.  Alternative procedure for relinquishment.

(a)  Petition to confirm consent to adoption.--If the parent or parents of the child have executed consents to an adoption, upon petition by the intermediary or, where there is no intermediary, by the adoptive parent, the court shall hold a hearing for the purpose of confirming a consent to an adoption upon expiration of the time periods under section 2711 (relating to consents necessary to adoption). The original consent or consents to the adoption shall be attached to the petition.

(b)  Hearing.--Upon presentation of a petition filed pursuant to this section, the court shall fix a time for a hearing which shall not be less than ten days after filing of the petition. Notice of the hearing shall be by personal service or by registered mail or by such other means as the court may require upon the consenter and shall be in the form provided in section 2513(b) (relating to hearing). Notice of the hearing shall be given to the other parent or parents, to the putative father whose parental rights could be terminated pursuant to subsection (c) and to the parents or guardian of a consenting parent who has not reached 18 years of age. The notice shall state that the consenting parent's or putative father's rights may be terminated as a result of the hearing. After hearing, which shall be private, the court may enter a decree of termination of parental rights in the case of a relinquishment to an adult or a decree of termination of parental rights and duties, including the obligation of support, in the case of a relinquishment to an agency.

(c)  Putative father.--If a putative father will not execute a consent to an adoption as required by section 2711, has been given notice of the hearing being held pursuant to this section and fails to either appear at that hearing for the purpose of objecting to termination of his parental rights or file a written objection to such termination with the court prior to the hearing and has not filed an acknowledgment of paternity or claim of paternity pursuant to section 5103 (relating to acknowledgment and claim of paternity), the court may enter a decree terminating the parental rights of the putative father pursuant to subsection (b).

(d)  Right to file personal and medical history information.--At the time the decree of termination is transmitted to the parent, the court shall also advise, in writing, the parent whose rights have been terminated of his or her continuing right to place and update personal and medical history information, whether or not the medical condition is in existence or discoverable at the time of adoption, on file with the court and with the Department of Public Welfare pursuant to  Subchapter B of Chapter 29 (relating to records and access to information).

23c2504v

(June 23, 1982, P.L.617, No.174, eff. 60 days; May 21, 1992, P.L.228, No.34, eff. 60 days; Dec. 20, 1995, P.L.685, No.76, eff. 60 days; Mar. 24, 2004, P.L.159, No.21, eff. 60 days; Oct. 27, 2010, P.L.961, No.101, eff. 180 days)

 

2010 Amendment.  Act 101 amended subsec. (d).

2004 Amendment.  Act 21 amended subsec. (a). Section 2 of Act 21 provided that the amendment of subsec. (a) shall apply to adoptions which are initiated on or after the effective date of section 2.

Cross References.  Section 2504 is referred to in section 2505 of this title.

23c2504.1s

§ 2504.1.  Confidentiality.

The court shall take such steps as are reasonably necessary to assure that the identity of the adoptive parent or parents is not disclosed without their consent in any proceeding under this subchapter or Subchapter B (relating to involuntary termination). The Supreme Court may prescribe uniform rules under this section relating to such confidentiality.

23c2504.1v

(May 21, 1992, P.L.228, No.34, eff. 60 days)

 

1992 Amendment.  Act 34 added section 2504.1.

23c2505s

§ 2505.  Counseling.

(a)  List of counselors.--Any hospital or other facility providing maternity care shall provide a list of available counselors and counseling services compiled pursuant to subsection (b) to its maternity patients who are known to be considering relinquishment or termination of parental rights pursuant to this part. The patient shall sign an acknowledgment of receipt of such list prior to discharge, a copy of which receipt shall be provided to the patient.

(b)  Compilation of list.--The court shall compile a list of qualified counselors and counseling services (including all adoption agencies) which are available to counsel natural parents within the county who are contemplating relinquishment or termination of parental rights pursuant to this part. Such list shall be distributed to every agency, hospital or other facility providing maternity care within the county and shall be made available upon request to any intermediary or licensed health care professional.

(c)  Court referral.--Prior to entering a decree of termination of parental rights pursuant to section 2503 (relating to hearing) or 2504 (relating to alternative procedure for relinquishment), if the parent whose rights are to be terminated is present in court, the court shall inquire whether he or she has received counseling concerning the termination and the alternatives thereto from an agency or from a qualified counselor listed by a court pursuant to subsection (b). If the parent has not received such counseling, the court may, with the parent's consent, refer the parent to an agency or qualified counselor listed by a court pursuant to subsection (b) for the purpose of receiving such counseling. In no event shall the court delay the completion of any hearing pursuant to section 2503 or 2504 for more than 15 days in order to provide for such counseling.

(d)  Application for counseling.--Any parent who has filed a petition to relinquish his or her parental rights, or has executed a consent to adoption, and is in need of counseling concerning the relinquishment or consent, and the alternatives thereto, may apply to the court for referral to an agency or qualified counselor listed by a court pursuant to subsection (b) for the purpose of receiving such counseling. The court, in its discretion, may make such a referral where it is satisfied that this counseling would be of benefit to the parent.

(e)  Counseling fund.--Except as hereinafter provided, each report of intention to adopt filed pursuant to section 2531 (relating to report of intention to adopt) shall be accompanied by a filing fee in the amount of $75 which shall be paid into a segregated fund established by the county. The county may also make supplemental appropriations to the fund. All costs of counseling provided pursuant to subsection (c) or (d) to individuals who are unable to pay for such counseling shall be paid from the fund. No filing fee may be exacted under this subsection with respect to the adoption of a special needs child who would be eligible for adoption assistance pursuant to regulations promulgated by the Department of Public Welfare. In addition, the court may reduce or waive the fee in cases of demonstrated financial hardship.

23c2505v

(June 23, 1982, P.L.617, No.174, eff. 60 days; May 21, 1992, P.L.228, No.34, eff. 60 days)

23c2511h

 

 

SUBCHAPTER B

INVOLUNTARY TERMINATION

 

Sec.

2511.  Grounds for involuntary termination.

2512.  Petition for involuntary termination.

2513.  Hearing.

 

Cross References.  Subchapter B is referred to in section 2504.1 of this title; section 6351 of Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure).

23c2511s

§ 2511.  Grounds for involuntary termination.

(a)  General rule.--The rights of a parent in regard to a child may be terminated after a petition filed on any of the following grounds:

(1)  The parent by conduct continuing for a period of at least six months immediately preceding the filing of the petition either has evidenced a settled purpose of relinquishing parental claim to a child or has refused or failed to perform parental duties.

(2)  The repeated and continued incapacity, abuse, neglect or refusal of the parent has caused the child to be without essential parental care, control or subsistence necessary for his physical or mental well-being and the conditions and causes of the incapacity, abuse, neglect or refusal cannot or will not be remedied by the parent.

(3)  The parent is the presumptive but not the natural father of the child.

(4)  The child is in the custody of an agency, having been found under such circumstances that the identity or whereabouts of the parent is unknown and cannot be ascertained by diligent search and the parent does not claim the child within three months after the child is found.

(5)  The child has been removed from the care of the parent by the court or under a voluntary agreement with an agency for a period of at least six months, the conditions which led to the removal or placement of the child continue to exist, the parent cannot or will not remedy those conditions within a reasonable period of time, the services or assistance reasonably available to the parent are not likely to remedy the conditions which led to the removal or placement of the child within a reasonable period of time and termination of the parental rights would best serve the needs and welfare of the child.

(6)  In the case of a newborn child, the parent knows or has reason to know of the child's birth, does not reside with the child, has not married the child's other parent, has failed for a period of four months immediately preceding the filing of the petition to make reasonable efforts to maintain substantial and continuing contact with the child and has failed during the same four-month period to provide substantial financial support for the child.

(7)  The parent is the father of a child conceived as a result of a rape or incest.

(8)  The child has been removed from the care of the parent by the court or under a voluntary agreement with an agency, 12 months or more have elapsed from the date of removal or placement, the conditions which led to the removal or placement of the child continue to exist and termination of parental rights would best serve the needs and welfare of the child.

(9)  The parent has been convicted of one of the following in which the victim was a child of the parent:

(i)  an offense under 18 Pa.C.S. Ch. 25 (relating to criminal homicide);

(ii)  a felony under 18 Pa.C.S. § 2702 (relating to aggravated assault);

(iii)  an offense in another jurisdiction equivalent to an offense in subparagraph (i) or (ii); or

(iv)  an attempt, solicitation or conspiracy to commit an offense in subparagraph (i), (ii) or (iii).

(b)  Other considerations.--The court in terminating the rights of a parent shall give primary consideration to the developmental, physical and emotional needs and welfare of the child. The rights of a parent shall not be terminated solely on the basis of environmental factors such as inadequate housing, furnishings, income, clothing and medical care if found to be beyond the control of the parent. With respect to any petition filed pursuant to subsection (a)(1), (6) or (8), the court shall not consider any efforts by the parent to remedy the conditions described therein which are first initiated subsequent to the giving of notice of the filing of the petition.

(c)  Right to file personal and medical history information.--At the time the decree of termination is transmitted to the parent whose rights have been terminated, the court shall advise the parent, in writing, of his or her continuing right to place and update personal and medical history information, whether or not the medical condition is in existence or discoverable at the time of adoption, on file with the court and with the Department of Public Welfare pursuant to  Subchapter B of Chapter 29 (relating to records and access to information).

23c2511v

(May 21, 1992, P.L.228, No.34, eff. 60 days; Dec. 20, 1995, P.L.685, No.76; Apr. 4, 1996, P.L.58, No.20, eff. 60 days; Nov. 9, 2006, P.L.1358, No.146, eff. 180 days; Oct. 27, 2010, P.L.961, No.101, eff. 180 days)

 

2010 Amendment.  Act 101 amended subsec. (c).

2006 Amendment.  Act 146 added subsec. (a)(9).

1996 Amendment.  Act 20 amended subsec. (a)(7).

1995 Amendment.  Act 76 amended subsecs. (b) and (c) and added subsec. (a)(8). Section 7 of Act 76 provided that subsecs. (b) and (c) shall take effect in 60 days and, with regard to a child who has been removed from the care of the parent by the court or under a voluntary agreement with an agency prior to the effective date of Act 76, subsec. (a)(8) shall take effect 12 months after the effective date of Act 76.

Cross References.  Section 2511 is referred to in sections 2513, 2714 of this title; section 6302 of Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure).

23c2512s

§ 2512.  Petition for involuntary termination.

(a)  Who may file.--A petition to terminate parental rights with respect to a child under the age of 18 years may be filed by any of the following:

(1)  Either parent when termination is sought with respect to the other parent.

(2)  An agency.

(3)  The individual having custody or standing in loco parentis to the child and who has filed a report of intention to adopt required by section 2531 (relating to report of intention to adopt).

(4)  An attorney representing a child or a guardian ad litem representing a child who has been adjudicated dependent under 42 Pa.C.S. § 6341(c) (relating to adjudication).

(b)  Contents.--The petition shall set forth specifically those grounds and facts alleged as the basis for terminating parental rights. The petition filed under this section shall also contain an averment that the petitioner will assume custody of the child until such time as the child is adopted. If the petitioner is an agency it shall not be required to aver that an adoption is presently contemplated nor that a person with a present intention to adopt exists.

(c)  Father not identified.--If the petition does not identify the father of the child, it shall state whether a claim of paternity has been filed under section 8303 (relating to claim of paternity).

23c2512v

(Dec. 20, 1995, P.L.685, No.76, eff. 60 days)

 

1995 Amendment.  Act 76 added subsec. (a)(4).

References in Text.  Former section 8303, referred to in this section, is repealed. The subject matter is now contained in section 5103.

Cross References.  Section 2512 is referred to in sections 2513, 2521 of this title.

23c2513s

§ 2513.  Hearing.

(a)  Time.--The court shall fix a time for hearing on a petition filed under section 2512 (relating to petition for involuntary termination) which shall be not less than ten days after filing of the petition.

(b)  Notice.--At least ten days' notice shall be given to the parent or parents, putative father, or parent of a minor parent whose rights are to be terminated, by personal service or by registered mail to his or their last known address or by such other means as the court may require. A copy of the notice shall be given in the same manner to the other parent, putative father or parent or guardian of a minor parent whose rights are to be terminated. A putative father shall include one who has filed a claim of paternity as provided in section 5103 (relating to acknowledgment and claim of paternity) prior to the institution of proceedings. The notice shall state the following:

"A petition has been filed asking the court to put an end to all rights you have to your child (insert name of child). The court has set a hearing to consider ending your rights to your child. That hearing will be held in (insert place, giving reference to exact room and building number or designation) on (insert date) at (insert time). You are warned that even if you fail to appear at the scheduled hearing, the hearing will go on without you and your rights to your child may be ended by the court without your being present. You have a right to be represented at the hearing by a lawyer. You should take this paper to your lawyer at once. If you do not have a lawyer or cannot afford one, go to or telephone the office set forth below to find out where you can get legal help.

(Name)

(Address)

 

(Telephone number)"

(c)  Mother competent witness on paternity issue.--The natural mother shall be a competent witness as to whether the presumptive or putative father is the natural father of the child.

(d)  Decree.--After hearing, which may be private, the court shall make a finding relative to the pertinent provisions of section 2511 (relating to grounds for involuntary termination) and upon such finding may enter a decree of termination of parental rights.

23c2513v

(June 23, 1982, P.L.617, No.174, eff. 60 days; May 21, 1992, P.L.228, No.34, eff. 60 days)

 

1992 Amendment.  Act 34 amended subsec. (b).

Cross References.  Section 2513 is referred to in sections 2504, 2714 of this title.

23c2521h

 

 

SUBCHAPTER C

DECREE OF TERMINATION

 

Sec.

2521.  Effect of decree of termination.

23c2521s

§ 2521.  Effect of decree of termination.

(a)  Adoption proceeding rights extinguished.--A decree terminating all rights of a parent or a decree terminating all rights and duties of a parent entered by a court of competent jurisdiction shall extinguish the power or the right of the parent to object to or receive notice of adoption proceedings.

(b)  Award of custody.--The decree shall award custody of the child to the agency or the person consenting to accept custody under section 2501 (relating to relinquishment to agency) or section 2502 (relating to relinquishment to adult intending to adopt child) or the petitioner in the case of a proceeding under section 2512 (relating to petition for involuntary termination).

(c)  Authority of agency or person receiving custody.--An agency or person receiving custody of a child shall stand in loco parentis to the child and in such capacity shall have the authority, inter alia, to consent to marriage, to enlistment in the armed forces and to major medical, psychiatric and surgical treatment and to exercise such other authority concerning the child as a natural parent could exercise.

23c2530h

 

 

SUBCHAPTER D

REPORTS AND INVESTIGATION

 

Sec.

2530.  Home study and preplacement report.

2531.  Report of intention to adopt.

2532.  Filing of report.

2533.  Report of intermediary.

2534.  Exhibits.

2535.  Investigation.

23c2530s

§ 2530.  Home study and preplacement report.

(a)  General rule.--No intermediary shall place a child in the physical care or custody of a prospective adoptive parent or parents unless a home study containing a favorable recommendation for placement of a child with the prospective parent or parents has been completed within three years prior thereto and which has been supplemented within one year prior thereto. The home study shall be conducted by a local public child-care agency, an adoption agency or a licensed social worker designated by the court to perform such study.

(b)  Preplacement report.--A preplacement report shall be prepared by the agency or person conducting the home study.

(1)  The preplacement report shall set forth all pertinent information relating to the fitness of the adopting parents as parents.

(2)  The preplacement report shall be based upon a study which shall include an investigation of the home environment, family life, parenting skills, age, physical and mental health, social, cultural and religious background, facilities and resources of the adoptive parents and their ability to manage their resources. The preplacement report shall also include the information required by section 6344(b) (relating to information relating to prospective child-care personnel).

(3)  The preplacement report shall include a determination regarding the fitness of the adopting parents as parents.

(4)  The preplacement report shall be dated and verified.

(c)  Interim placement.--Where a home study required under this section is in process, but not yet completed, an intermediary may place a child in the physical care or custody of a prospective adoptive parent or parents if all of the following conditions are met:

(1)  The intermediary has no reason to believe that the prospective adoptive parent or parents would not receive a favorable recommendation for placement as a result of the home study.

(2)  The individual or agency conducting the home study assents to the interim placement.

(3)  The intermediary immediately notifies the court of the interim placement and the identity of the individual or agency conducting the home study. If at any time prior to the completion of the home study the court is notified by the individual or agency conducting the home study that it withdraws its assent to the interim placement, the court may order the placement of the child in temporary foster care with an agency until a favorable recommendation for placement is received.

23c2530v

(May 21, 1992, P.L.228, No.34, eff. 60 days)

 

1992 Amendment.  Act 34 added section 2530.

Cross References.  Section 2530 is referred to in sections 2531, 2701 of this title.

23c2531s

§ 2531.  Report of intention to adopt.

(a)  General rule.--Every person now having or hereafter receiving or retaining custody or physical care of any child for the purpose or with the intention of adopting a child under the age of 18 years shall report to the court in which the petition for adoption will be filed.

(b)  Contents.--The report shall set forth:

(1)  The circumstances surrounding the persons receiving or retaining custody or physical care of the child, including the date upon which a preplacement investigation was concluded.

(2)  The name, sex, racial background, age, date and place of birth and religious affiliation of the child.

(3)  The name and address of the intermediary.

(4)  An itemized accounting of moneys and consideration paid or to be paid to the intermediary.

(5)  Whether the parent or parents whose parental rights are to be terminated have received counseling with respect to the termination and the alternatives thereto. If so, the report shall state the dates on which the counseling was provided and the name and address of the counselor or agency which provided the counseling.

(6)  The name, address and signature of the person or persons making the report. Immediately above the signature of the person or persons intending to adopt the child shall appear the following statement:

I acknowledge that I have been advised or know and understand that the birth father or putative father may revoke the consent to the adoption of this child within 30 days after the later of the birth of the child or the date he has executed the consent to an adoption and that the birth mother may revoke the consent to an adoption of this child within 30 days after the date she has executed the consent.

(7)  A copy of the preplacement report prepared pursuant to section 2530 (relating to home study and preplacement report).

When a person receives or retains custody or physical care of a child from an agency, the report shall set forth only the name and address of the agency, the circumstances surrounding such person receiving or retaining custody or physical care of the child and a copy of the preplacement report prepared pursuant to section 2530.

(c)  When report not required.--No report shall be required when the child is the child, grandchild, stepchild, brother or sister of the whole or half blood, or niece or nephew by blood, marriage or adoption of the person receiving or retaining custody or physical care.

23c2531v

(June 23, 1982, P.L.617, No.174, eff. 60 days; May 21, 1992, P.L.228, No.34, eff. 60 days; Mar. 24, 2004, P.L.159, No.21, eff. 60 days)

 

2004 Amendment.  Act 21 amended subsec. (b)(6). Section 2 of Act 21 provided that the amendment of subsec. (b)(6) shall apply to adoptions which are initiated on or after the effective date of section 2.

1992 Amendment.  Act 34 amended subsec. (b).

Cross References.  Section 2531 is referred to in sections 2302, 2502, 2505, 2512, 2532, 2535, 2701 of this title.

23c2532s

§ 2532.  Filing of report.

The report required by section 2531 (relating to report of intention to adopt) shall be filed within 30 days after the date of receipt of the custody or physical care of the child.

23c2533s

§ 2533.  Report of intermediary.

(a)  General rule.--Within six months after filing the report of intention to adopt, the intermediary who or which arranged the adoption placement of any child under the age of 18 years shall make a written report under oath to the court in which the petition for adoption will be filed and shall thereupon forthwith notify in writing the adopting parent or parents of the fact that the report has been filed and the date thereof.

(b)  Contents.--The report shall set forth:

(1)  The name and address of the intermediary.

(2)  The name, sex, racial background, age, date and place of birth and religious affiliation of the child.

(3)  The date of the placement of the child with the adopting parent or parents.

(4)  The name, racial background, age, marital status as of the time of birth of the child and during one year prior thereto, and religious affiliation of the parents of the child.

(5)  Identification of proceedings in which any decree of termination of parental rights, or parental rights and duties, with respect to the child was entered.

(6)  The residence of the parents or parent of the child, if there has been no such decree of termination.

(7)  A statement that all consents required by section 2711 (relating to consents necessary to adoption) are attached as exhibits or the basis upon which the consents are not required.

(8)  An itemized accounting of moneys and consideration paid or to be paid to or received by the intermediary or to or by any other person or persons to the knowledge of the intermediary by reason of the adoption placement.

(9)  A full description and statement of the value of all property owned or possessed by the child.

(10)  A statement that no provision of any statute regulating the interstate placement of children has been violated with respect to the placement of the child.

(11)  If no birth certificate or certification of registration of birth can be obtained, a statement of the reason therefor.

(12)  A statement that medical history information was obtained and if not obtained, a statement of the reason therefor.

(c)  Appropriate relief.--The court may provide appropriate relief where it finds that the moneys or consideration reported or reportable pursuant to subsection (b)(8) are excessive.

(d)  Permissible reimbursement of expenses.--Payments made by the adoptive parents to an intermediary or a third party for reimbursement of the following expenses, calculated without regard to the income of the adoptive parents, are permissible and are not in violation of 18 Pa.C.S. § 4305 (relating to dealing in infant children):

(1)  Medical and hospital expenses incurred by the natural mother for prenatal care and those medical and hospital expenses incurred by the natural mother and child incident to birth.

(2)  Medical, hospital and foster care expenses incurred on behalf of the child prior to the decree of adoption.

(3)  Reasonable expenses incurred by the agency or a third party for adjustment counseling and training services provided to the adoptive parents and for home studies or investigations.

(4)  Reasonable administrative expenses incurred by the agency, to include overhead costs and attorney fees.

23c2533v

(June 23, 1982, P.L.617, No.174, eff. 60 days; Jan. 15, 1988, P.L.16, No.7, eff. imd.)

 

1988 Amendment.  Act 7 added subsec. (d). Section 2 of Act 7 provided that Act 7 shall apply to expenses incurred for adoption decrees made after the effective date of Act 7, regardless of whether the expenses were incurred prior to or after the effective date of Act 7.

1982 Amendment.  Act 174 amended subsec. (b) and added subsec. (c).

Cross References.  Section 2533 is referred to in sections 2535, 2701, 2901 of this title.

23c2534s

§ 2534.  Exhibits.

The report of the intermediary shall have attached to it the following exhibits:

(1)  A birth certificate or certification of registration of birth of the child if it can be obtained.

(2)  All consents to adoption required by section 2711 (relating to consents necessary to adoption).

(3)  A certified copy of any decree of termination of parental rights or parental rights and duties made by a court other than the court in which the petition for adoption will be filed.

23c2534v

 

Cross References.  Section 2534 is referred to in section 2702 of this title.

23c2535s

§ 2535.  Investigation.

(a)  General rule.--When a report required by section 2531 (relating to report of intention to adopt) has been filed, the court shall cause an investigation to be made and a report filed by a local public child care agency, a voluntary child care agency with its consent or an appropriate person designated by the court. In lieu of the investigation, the court may accept an investigation made by the agency which placed the child and the report of investigation in such cases may be incorporated into the report of the intermediary required by section 2533 (relating to report of intermediary).

(b)  Matters covered.--The investigation shall cover all pertinent information regarding the child's eligibility for adoption and the suitability of the placement, including the physical, mental and emotional needs and welfare of the child, and the child's and the adopting parents' age, sex, health and racial, ethnic and religious background.

(c)  Payment of costs.--The court may establish the procedure for the payment of investigation costs.

23c2535v

 

Cross References.  Section 2535 is referred to in sections 2724, 2901, 6344 of this title.

23c2551h

 

 

SUBCHAPTER E

PENNSYLVANIA ADOPTION COOPERATIVE EXCHANGE

 

Sec.

2551.  Definitions.

2552.  Pennsylvania Adoption Cooperative Exchange.

2553.  Registration of children.

2554.  Responsibilities of PACE.

2555.  Responsibilities of public and private agencies.

2556.  Related activities of agencies unaffected.

2557.  Regulations and staff.

2558.  Retroactive application of subchapter.

 

Enactment.  Subchapter E was added December 19, 1990, P.L.1240, No.206, effective in 90 days.

23c2551s

§ 2551.  Definitions.

The following words and phrases when used in this subchapter shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"Department."  The Department of Public Welfare of the Commonwealth.

"PACE."  The Pennsylvania Adoption Cooperative Exchange.

23c2552s

§ 2552.  Pennsylvania Adoption Cooperative Exchange.

There shall be a Pennsylvania Adoption Cooperative Exchange in the Office of Children, Youth and Families of the Department of Public Welfare.

23c2553s

§ 2553.  Registration of children.

(a)  Mandatory registration.--PACE shall register and be responsible for the review and referral of children for whom parental rights have been terminated for 90 days and for whom no report of intention to adopt has been filed in the court of common pleas.

(b)  Optional registration.--PACE may also register children where restoration to the biological family is neither possible nor appropriate, a petition to terminate parental rights has been filed and adoption is planned pending identification of an adoptive parent or parents. However, information about these children shall not be publicized without prior approval by the department, which shall ensure the anonymity of these children until such time as parental rights are terminated.

(c)  Children excluded from registration.--A child for whom termination of parental rights is being appealed in a court shall not be registered with PACE as available for adoption. Identifying information of such children shall be forwarded to PACE by the agency, with reference to the specific reason for which the child is not to be placed on the listing service.

23c2553v

 

Cross References.  Section 2553 is referred to in section 2555 of this title.

23c2554s

§ 2554.  Responsibilities of PACE.

PACE shall be responsible for the following:

(1)  Registration of adoptive parent applicants who have been approved by agencies.

(2)  Accumulation and dissemination of statistical information regarding all children registered with PACE.

(3)  Creation and administration of a public information program designed to inform potential adoptive parents of the need for adoptive homes for children registered with PACE.

(4)  Preparation and distribution of a photographic listing service on children registered with PACE.

(5)  Preparation of annual reports concerning functions of PACE regarding the children and the prospective parents listed with PACE. The reports shall be submitted annually to the Health and Welfare and Judiciary Committees of the House of Representatives, to the Public Health and Welfare and Judiciary Committees of the Senate and to the Governor.

(6)  Coordination of its functions with other state, regional and national adoption exchanges.

23c2555s

§ 2555.  Responsibilities of public and private agencies.

All public and licensed private child service agencies shall register all children with PACE for whom parental rights have been terminated for 90 days and for whom no report of intention to adopt has been filed in the court of common pleas. A public or licensed private agency may register other children as set forth in section 2553(b) (relating to registration of children).

23c2556s

§ 2556.  Related activities of agencies unaffected.

This subchapter shall not be construed to limit or delay actions by agencies or institutions to arrange for adoptions or other related matters on their own initiative and shall not alter or restrict the duties, authority and confidentiality of the agencies and institutions in those matters.

23c2557s

§ 2557.  Regulations and staff.

The department shall promulgate necessary regulations and shall hire the staff which is necessary to implement this subchapter.

23c2558s

§ 2558.  Retroactive application of subchapter.

This subchapter shall apply retroactively to all children for whom:

(1)  Parental rights have been terminated and for whom no report of intention to adopt has been filed in the court of common pleas.

(2)  Restoration to the biological family is neither possible nor appropriate, a petition to terminate parental rights has been filed and adoption is planned pending identification of an adoptive parent or parents.

23c2701h

 

 

CHAPTER 27

PETITION FOR ADOPTION

 

Subchapter

A.  Petition

B.  Consents

C.  Hearings

D.  Voluntary Agreement for Continuing Contact

 

Enactment.  Chapter 27 was added October 15, 1980, P.L.934, No.163, effective January 1, 1981.

 

 

SUBCHAPTER A

PETITION

 

Sec.

2701.  Contents of petition for adoption.

2702.  Exhibits.

23c2701s

§ 2701.  Contents of petition for adoption.

A petition for adoption shall set forth:

(1)  The full name, residence, marital status, age, occupation, religious affiliation and racial background of the adopting parent or parents and their relationship, if any, to the adoptee.

(2)  That the reports under sections 2530 (relating to home study and preplacement report), 2531 (relating to report of intention to adopt) and 2533 (relating to report of intermediary) have been filed, if required.

(3)  The name and address of the intermediary, if any.

(4)  The full name of the adoptee and the fact and length of time of the residence of the adoptee with the adopting parent or parents.

(5)  If there is no intermediary or if no report of the intermediary has been filed or if the adoptee is over the age of 18 years, all vital statistics and other information enumerated and required to be stated of record by section 2533, so far as applicable.

(6)  If a change in name of the adoptee is desired, the new name.

(7)  That all consents required by section 2711 (relating to consents necessary to adoption) are attached as exhibits or the basis upon which such consents are not required.

(8)  That it is the desire of the petitioner or the petitioners that the relationship of parent and child be established between the petitioner or petitioners and the adoptee.

(9)  If no birth certificate or certification of registration of birth can be obtained, a statement of the reason therefor and an allegation of the efforts made to obtain the certificate with a request that the court establish a date and place of birth at the adoption hearing on the basis of the evidence presented.

23c2701v

(May 21, 1992, P.L.228, No.34, eff. 60 days)

23c2702s

§ 2702.  Exhibits.

The petition shall have attached to it the following exhibits:

(1)  The consent or consents required by section 2711 (relating to consents necessary to adoption).

(2)  If not already filed with a report of an intermediary, the exhibits enumerated in section 2534 (relating to exhibits).

23c2711h

 

 

SUBCHAPTER B

CONSENTS

 

Sec.

2711.  Consents necessary to adoption.

2712.  Consents not naming adopting parents.

2713.  When other consents not required.

2714.  When consent of parent not required..

23c2711s

§ 2711.  Consents necessary to adoption.

(a)  General rule.--Except as otherwise provided in this part, consent to an adoption shall be required of the following:

(1)  The adoptee, if over 12 years of age.

(2)  The spouse of the adopting parent, unless they join in the adoption petition.

(3)  The parents or surviving parent of an adoptee who has not reached the age of 18 years.

(4)  The guardian of an incapacitated adoptee.

(5)  The guardian of the person of an adoptee under the age of 18 years, if any there be, or of the person or persons having the custody of the adoptee, if any such person can be found, whenever the adoptee has no parent whose consent is required.

(b)  Husband of natural mother.--The consent of the husband of the mother shall not be necessary if, after notice to the husband, it is proved to the satisfaction of the court by evidence, including testimony of the natural mother, that the husband of the natural mother is not the natural father of the child. Absent such proof, the consent of a former husband of the natural mother shall be required if he was the husband of the natural mother at any time within one year prior to the birth of the adoptee.

(c)  Validity of consent.--No consent shall be valid if it was executed prior to or within 72 hours after the birth of the child. A putative father may execute a consent at any time after receiving notice of the expected or actual birth of the child. Any consent given outside this Commonwealth shall be valid for purposes of this section if it was given in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction where it was executed. A consent to an adoption may only be revoked as set forth in this subsection. The revocation of a consent shall be in writing and shall be served upon the agency or adult to whom the child was relinquished. The following apply:

(1)  Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (3):

(i)  For a consent to an adoption executed by a birth father or a putative father, the consent is irrevocable more than 30 days after the birth of the child or the execution of the consent, whichever occurs later.

(ii)  For a consent to an adoption executed by a birth mother, the consent is irrevocable more than 30 days after the execution of the consent.

(2)  An individual may not waive the revocation period under paragraph (1).

(3)  Notwithstanding paragraph (1), the following apply:

(i)  An individual who executed a consent to an adoption may challenge the validity of the consent only by filing a petition alleging fraud or duress within the earlier of the following time frames:

(A)  Sixty days after the birth of the child or the execution of the consent, whichever occurs later.

(B)  Thirty days after the entry of the adoption decree.

(ii)  A consent to an adoption may be invalidated only if the alleged fraud or duress under subparagraph (i) is proven by:

(A)  a preponderance of the evidence in the case of consent by a person 21 years of age or younger; or

(B)  clear and convincing evidence in all other cases.

(d)  Contents of consent.--

(1)  The consent of a parent of an adoptee under 18 years of age shall set forth the name, age and marital status of the parent, the relationship of the consenter to the child, the name of the other parent or parents of the child and the following:

I hereby voluntarily and unconditionally consent to the adoption of the above named child.

I understand that by signing this consent I indicate my intent to permanently give up all rights to this child.

I understand such child will be placed for adoption.

I understand I may revoke this consent to permanently give up all rights to this child by placing the revocation in writing and serving it upon the agency or adult to whom the child was relinquished.

If I am the birth father or putative father of the child, I understand that this consent to an adoption is irrevocable unless I revoke it within 30 days after either the birth of the child or my execution of the consent, whichever occurs later, by delivering a written revocation to (insert the name and address of the agency coordinating the adoption) or (insert the name and address of an attorney who represents the individual relinquishing parental rights or prospective adoptive parent of the child) or (insert the court of the county in which the voluntary relinquishment form was or will be filed).

If I am the birth mother of the child, I understand that this consent to an adoption is irrevocable unless I revoke it within 30 days after executing it by delivering a written revocation to (insert the name and address of the agency coordinating the adoption) or (insert the name and address of an attorney who represents the individual relinquishing parental rights or prospective adoptive parent of the child) or (insert the court of the county in which the voluntary relinquishment form was or will be filed).

I have read and understand the above and I am signing it as a free and voluntary act.

(2)  The consent shall include the date and place of its execution and names and addresses and signatures of at least two persons who witnessed its execution and their relationship to the consenter.

23c2711v

(June 23, 1982, P.L.617, No.174, eff. 60 days; Apr. 16, 1992, P.L.108, No.24, eff. 60 days; May 21, 1992, P.L.228, No.34, eff. 60 days; Mar. 24, 2004, P.L.159, No.21, eff. 60 days)

 

2004 Amendment.  Act 21 amended subsecs. (c) and (d)(1). Section 2 of Act 21 provided that the amendment of subsecs. (c) and (d)(1) shall apply to adoptions which are initiated on or after the effective date of section 2.

1992 Amendments.  Act 24 amended subsec. (a) and Act 34 amended subsecs. (c) and (d).

Cross References.  Section 2711 is referred to in sections 2504, 2533, 2534, 2701, 2702 of this title.

23c2712s

§ 2712.  Consents not naming adopting parents.

A consent to a proposed adoption meeting all the requirements of this part but which does not name or otherwise identify the adopting parent or parents shall be valid if it contains a statement that it is voluntarily executed without disclosure of the name or other identification of the adopting parent or parents.

23c2713s

§ 2713.  When other consents not required.

The court, in its discretion, may dispense with consents other than that of the adoptee to a petition for adoption when:

(1)  the adoptee is over 18 years of age; or

(2)  the adoptee is under 18 years of age and has no parent living whose consent is required.

23c2714s

§ 2714.  When consent of parent not required.

Consent of a parent to adoption shall not be required if a decree of termination with regard to such parent has been entered. When parental rights have not previously been terminated, the court may find that consent of a parent of the adoptee is not required if, after notice and hearing as prescribed in section 2513 (relating to hearing), the court finds that grounds exist for involuntary termination under section 2511 (relating to grounds for involuntary termination).

23c2721h

 

 

SUBCHAPTER C

HEARINGS

 

Sec.

2721.  Notice of hearing.

2722.  Place of hearing.

2723.  Attendance at hearing.

2724.  Testimony and investigation.

2725.  Religious belief.

23c2721s

§ 2721.  Notice of hearing.

The court shall fix a time and place for hearing. Notice of the hearing shall be given to all persons whose consents are required and to such other persons as the court shall direct. Notice to the parent or parents of the adoptee, if required, may be given by the intermediary or someone acting on his behalf. Notice shall be by personal service or by registered mail to the last known address of the person to be notified or in such other manner as the court shall direct.

23c2722s

§ 2722.  Place of hearing.

The hearing shall be private or in open court as the court deems appropriate.

23c2723s

§ 2723.  Attendance at hearing.

The adopting parent or parents and the adoptee must appear at and, if required, testify at the hearing under oath unless the court determines their presence is unnecessary. In addition, the court may require the appearance and testimony of all persons whose consents are required by this part and representatives of agencies or individuals who have acted as an intermediary if their appearance or testimony would be necessary or helpful to the court.

23c2724s

§ 2724.  Testimony and investigation.

(a)  Testimony.--The court shall hear testimony in support of the petition and such additional testimony as it deems necessary to inform it as to the desirability of the proposed adoption. It shall require a disclosure of all moneys and consideration paid or to be paid to any person or institution in connection with the adoption.

(b)  Investigation.--The court may request that an investigation be made by a person or public agency or, with its consent, a voluntary agency, specifically designated by the court to verify the statements of the petition and such other facts that will give the court full knowledge of the desirability of the proposed adoption, or the court may rely in whole or in part upon a report earlier made under section 2535 (relating to investigation). In any case, the age, sex, health, social and economic status or racial, ethnic or religious background of the child or adopting parents shall not preclude an adoption but the court shall decide its desirability on the basis of the physical, mental and emotional needs and welfare of the child.

(c)  Payment of investigation costs.--The court may establish a procedure for the payment of investigation costs by the petitioners or by such other persons as the court may direct.

23c2725s

§ 2725.  Religious belief.

The intermediary may honor the preference of the natural parents as to the religious faith in which the adoptive parents intend to rear the adopted child. No person shall be denied the benefits of this part because of a religious belief in the use of spiritual means or prayer for healing.

23c2725v

(May 21, 1992, P.L.228, No.34, eff. 60 days)

23c2731h

 

 

SUBCHAPTER D

VOLUNTARY AGREEMENT FOR

CONTINUING CONTACT

 

Sec.

2731.  Purpose of subchapter.

2732.  Definitions.

2733.  Parties to agreement.

2734.  Consent of a child.

2735.  Filing and approval of an agreement.

2736.  Failure to comply.

2737.  Modification of agreement.

2738.  Enforcement of agreement.

2739.  Discontinuance of agreement.

2740.  Procedures for facilitating and resolving agreements involving a county child welfare agency.

2741.  Counsel.

2742.  Costs.

 

Enactment.  Subchapter D was added October 27, 2010, P.L.961, No.101, effective 180 days.

23c2731s

§ 2731.  Purpose of subchapter.

The purpose of this subchapter is to provide an option for adoptive parents and birth relatives to enter into a voluntary agreement for ongoing communication or contact that:

(1)  is in the best interest of the child;

(2)  recognizes the parties' interests and desires for ongoing communication or contact;

(3)  is appropriate given the role of the parties in the child's life; and

(4)  is subject to approval by the courts.

23c2732s

§ 2732.  Definitions.

The following words and phrases when used in this subchapter shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"Agency."  A public or private entity, including a county agency, that:

(1)  is licensed, supervised or regulated by the Department of Public Welfare; and

(2)  provides adoption services.

"Agreement."  A voluntary written agreement between an adoptive parent and a birth relative that is approved by a court and provides for continuing contact or communication between the child and the birth relative or between the adoptive parent and the birth relative as provided under this subchapter.

"Birth relative."  A parent, grandparent, stepparent, sibling, uncle or aunt of the child's birth family, whether the relationship is by blood, marriage or adoption.

"Child."  An individual who is under 18 years of age.

"County agency."  A county children and youth social service agency established under section 405 of the act of June 24, 1937 (P.L.2017, No.396), known as the County Institution District Law, or its successor, and supervised by the Department of Public Welfare under Article IX of the act of June 13, 1967 (P.L.31, No.21), known as the Public Welfare Code.

"Department."  The Department of Public Welfare of the Commonwealth.

23c2733s

§ 2733.  Parties to agreement.

(a)  Prospective adoptive parents and birth relatives.--A prospective adoptive parent of a child may enter into an agreement with a birth relative of  the child to permit continuing contact or communication between the child and the birth relative or between the adoptive parent and the birth relative.

(b)  Guardians ad litem for siblings of adoptees.--Where siblings have been freed for adoption through the termination of parental rights, following a dependency proceeding, and the prospective adoptive parent is not adopting all of the siblings, each such sibling who is under 18 years of age shall be represented by a guardian ad litem in the development of an agreement.

(c)  Notification.--An agency or anyone representing the parties in an adoption shall provide notification to a prospective adoptive parent, a birth parent and a child who can be reasonably expected to understand that a prospective adoptive parent and a birth relative of a child have the option to enter into a voluntary agreement for continuing contact or communication.

(d)  Construction.--Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit the parties from agreeing to mediation of an agreement at their own cost, including the modification of an agreement, before seeking a remedy from the court.

23c2734s

§ 2734.  Consent of a child.

If the child is 12 years of age or older, an agreement made under this subchapter may not be entered into without the child's consent.

23c2735s

§ 2735.  Filing and approval of an agreement.

(a)  General rule.--An agreement shall be filed with the court that finalizes the adoption of the child.

(b)  Conditions for approval.--The court shall approve the agreement if the court determines that:

(1)  The agreement has been entered into knowingly and voluntarily by all parties. An affidavit made under oath must accompany the agreement affirmatively stating that the agreement was entered into knowingly and voluntarily and is not the product of coercion, fraud or duress. The affidavit may be executed jointly or separately.

(2)  The agreement is in the best interest of the child. In making that determination, factors that the court may consider include, but are not limited to, the following:

(i)  The length of time that the child has been under actual care, custody and control of a person other than a birth parent and the circumstances relating thereto.

(ii)  The interaction and interrelationship of the child with birth relatives and other persons who routinely interact with the birth relatives and may significantly affect the child's best interests.

(iii)  The adjustment to the child's home, school and community.

(iv)  The willingness and ability of the birth relative to respect and appreciate the bond between the child and prospective adoptive parent.

(v)  The willingness and ability of the prospective adoptive parent to respect and appreciate the bond between the child and the birth relative.

(vi)  Any evidence of abuse or neglect of the child.

(c)  Legal effect.--An agreement shall not be legally enforceable unless approved by the court.

23c2736s

§ 2736.  Failure to comply.

Failure to comply with the terms of an agreement that has been approved by the court pursuant to this subchapter shall not be grounds for setting aside an adoption decree.

23c2737s

§ 2737.  Modification of agreement.

(a)  General rule.--Only the adoptive parent or a child who is 12 years of age or older may seek to modify an agreement by filing an action in the court that finalized the adoption.

(b)  Standard for modification.--Before the court may enter an order modifying the agreement, it must find by clear and convincing evidence that modification serves the needs, welfare and best interest of the child.

23c2737v

 

Cross References.  Section 2737 is referred to in sections 2741, 2742 of this title.

23c2738s

§ 2738.  Enforcement of agreement.

(a)  General rule.--Any party to an agreement, a sibling or a child who is the subject of an agreement may seek to enforce an agreement by filing an action in the court that finalized the adoption.

(b)  Remedies.--Any party to an agreement, a sibling or a child who is the subject of an agreement may request only specific performance in seeking to enforce an agreement and may not request monetary damages or modification of an agreement.

(c)  Requirements.--For an agreement to be enforceable, it must be:

(1)  In writing.

(2)  Approved by the court on or before the date for any adoption decree.

(3)  If the child is 12 years of age or older when the agreement is executed, the child must consent to the agreement at the time of its execution.

(d)  Prerequisites.--Before the court may enter an order enforcing an agreement, it must find all of the following:

(1)  The party seeking enforcement of the agreement is in substantial compliance with the agreement.

(2)  By clear and convincing evidence, enforcement serves the needs, welfare and best interest of the child.

(e)  Cessation of enforceability.--

(1)  An agreement shall cease to be enforceable on the date the child turns 18 years of age unless the agreement otherwise stipulates or is modified by the court.

(2)  The court issuing final approval of an agreement shall have continuing jurisdiction over enforcement of the agreement until the child turns 18 years of age, unless the agreement otherwise stipulates or is modified by the court.

(f)  Exclusivity of remedy.--This section constitutes the exclusive remedy for enforcement of an agreement, and no statutory or common law remedy shall be available for enforcement or damages in connection with an agreement.

23c2738v

 

Cross References.  Section 2738 is referred to in sections 2741, 2742 of this title.

23c2739s

§ 2739.  Discontinuance of agreement.

(a)  General rule.--A party to an agreement or a child that is at least 12 years of age or older may seek to discontinue an agreement by filing an action in the court that finalized the adoption.

(b)  Standard for discontinuation.--Before the court may enter an order discontinuing an agreement, it must find by clear and convincing evidence that discontinuance serves the needs, welfare and best interest of the child.

23c2739v

 

Cross References.  Section 2739 is referred to in sections 2741, 2742 of this title.

23c2740s

§ 2740.  Procedures for facilitating and resolving agreements involving a county child welfare agency.

(a)  Department to develop procedures.--In termination of parental rights and adoption proceedings involving a county child welfare agency arising from a juvenile dependency case under 42 Pa.C.S. Ch. 63 (relating to juvenile matters), the department shall develop, in consultation with the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts and the Juvenile Courts Judges Commission, procedures to do the following:

(1)  Facilitate the development of an agreement, when appropriate, before it is presented to the court.

(2)  Resolve any requests to modify, enforce or discontinue an agreement consistent with the provisions of this subchapter.

(b)  Requirements.--The procedures shall, among other provisions to be determined by the department, clearly inform the parties to and subject of an agreement how to seek modification, enforcement or discontinuance of an agreement that was approved by the court.

(c)  Availability to county agencies.--The department shall make the procedures available to county agencies no later than 180 days after the effective date of this subchapter.

23c2741s

§ 2741.  Counsel.

(a)  General rule.--In proceedings under sections 2737 (relating to modification of agreement), 2738 (relating to enforcement of agreement) and 2739 (relating to discontinuance of agreement), parties shall not be entitled to court-appointed counsel.

(b)  Guardians ad litem.--

(1)  Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a), the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the interests of a child in proceedings under sections 2737, 2738 and 2739 and a sibling under 18 years of age who seeks to enforce or to discontinue an agreement.

(2)  When appointing a guardian ad litem under this subchapter, the court may appoint the same attorney who represents or has represented the child in any dependency proceedings or termination of parental rights proceedings.

23c2742s

§ 2742.  Costs.

If the court finds that an action brought under section 2737 (relating to modification of agreement), 2738 (relating to enforcement of agreement) or 2739 (relating to discontinuance of agreement) was wholly insubstantial, frivolous or not advanced in good faith, the court may award attorney fees and costs to the prevailing parties.

23c2901h

 

 

CHAPTER 29

DECREES AND RECORDS

 

Subchapter

A.  General Provisions

B.  Records and Access to Information

C.  Information Registry

D.  Release of Information

 

Enactment.  Chapter 29 was added October 15, 1980, P.L.934, No.163, effective January 1, 1981.

 

 

SUBCHAPTER A

GENERAL PROVISIONS

 

Sec.

2901.  Time of entry of decree of adoption.

2902.  Requirements and form of decree of adoption.

2903.  Retention of parental status.

2904.  Name of adoptee.

2905.  Impounding of proceedings and access to records (Repealed).

2906.  Docket entries.

2907.  Certificate of adoption.

2908.  Foreign decree of adoption.

2909.  Medical history information (Repealed).

2910.  Penalty for unauthorized disclosure.

 

Subchapter Heading.  The heading of Subchapter A was added October 27, 2010, P.L.961, No.101, effective in 180 days.

23c2901s

§ 2901.  Time of entry of decree of adoption.

Unless the court for cause shown determines otherwise, no decree of adoption shall be entered unless the natural parent or parents' rights have been terminated, the investigation required by section 2535 (relating to investigation) has been completed, the report of the intermediary has been filed pursuant to section 2533 (relating to report of intermediary) and all other legal requirements have been met. If all legal requirements have been met, the court may enter a decree of adoption at any time.

23c2901v

(June 23, 1982, P.L.617, No.174, eff. 60 days)

23c2902s

§ 2902.  Requirements and form of decree of adoption.

(a)  General rule.--If satisfied that the statements made in the petition are true, that the needs and welfare of the person proposed to be adopted will be promoted by the adoption and that all requirements of this part have been met, the court shall enter a decree so finding and directing that the person proposed to be adopted shall have all the rights of a child and heir of the adopting parent or parents and shall be subject to the duties of a child to him or them.

(b)  Withdrawal or dismissal of petition.--In any case in which the petition is withdrawn or dismissed, the court shall enter an appropriate order in regard to the custody of the child.

23c2903s

§ 2903.  Retention of parental status.

Whenever a parent consents to the adoption of his child by his spouse, the parent-child relationship between him and his child shall remain whether or not he is one of the petitioners in the adoption proceeding.

23c2904s

§ 2904.  Name of adoptee.

If requested by the petitioners, the decree may provide that the adoptee shall assume the name of the adopting parent or parents and any given first or middle names that may be chosen.

23c2905s

§ 2905.  Impounding of proceedings and access to records (Repealed).

23c2905v

 

2010 Repeal.  Section 2905 was repealed October 27, 2010, P.L.961, No.101, effective in 180 days.

23c2906s

§ 2906.  Docket entries.

Upon the filing of any decree under this part, the clerk shall enter on the docket an entry showing the date of the decree. Information identifying the natural parents shall not be entered on the docket.

23c2907s

§ 2907.  Certificate of adoption.

The clerk shall issue to the adopting parent or parents a certificate reciting that the court has granted the adoption. The certificate shall not disclose the name of any natural parent or the original name of the person adopted. The certificate shall be accepted in any legal proceedings in this Commonwealth as evidence of the fact that the adoption has been granted.

23c2907v

 

Cross References.  Section 2907 is referred to in section 2908 of this title.

23c2908s

§ 2908.  Foreign decree of adoption.

(a)  Registration.--When a minor is adopted by a resident of this Commonwealth and a final decree of adoption is made or entered in conformity with the laws of a foreign country, the adopting parent shall file a properly authenticated copy of the foreign decree of adoption, a copy of the child's visa and either the child's birth certificate or some form of birth identification with the clerk of the court in the county of residence of the parent. If the foreign decree of adoption is not in English, the adopting parent shall also file a certified English translation. If no birth certificate or birth identification can be obtained, the adopting parent shall include an affidavit stating the reason therefor.

(b)  Foreign adoption registration form.--The court shall develop a foreign adoption registration form and instructions for its use. The adopting parent or parents shall sign the foreign adoption registration form indicating that they have read and understand the information provided.

(c)  Contents of form.--

(1)  The form shall include statements indicating that the foreign adoption may not be a full and final adoption if:

(i)  Both parents, or just the sole parent if only one parent is adopting, were not present for the adoption hearing in the foreign country.

(ii)  The foreign court did not enter a final adoption decree or its equivalent.

(iii)  The child's visa is not the type that would afford the child full United States citizenship.

(2)  The form shall notify the adopting parent or parents that an adoption decree may be obtained from the Commonwealth if the documents filed in subsection (a) are reviewed by the court and the court determines the foreign adoption was full and final.

(3)  At the time of filing, a copy of the foreign decree of adoption and a certified English translation, if necessary, the child's visa and either the child's birth certificate or some form of birth identification shall be attached to the foreign registration form and submitted to the clerk of court.

(d)  Foreign adoption review.--In cases where the court determines the foreign adoption was full and final, the court shall direct the clerk to enter upon the docket an entry showing the foreign court identification of the proceedings in that court and the date of the decree. The clerk shall issue to the parent a certificate of adoption as defined in section 2907 (relating to certificate of adoption). The clerk shall also send documentation to the Department of Health. No hearing shall be required prior to the issuance of the certificate of adoption, and the parent shall not be required to obtain counsel.

(e)  Readoption.--The court shall develop a standard petition, a standard court order and instructions for their use for occasions when a child must be readopted to finalize the adoption. The clerk shall provide the adopting parent with the standardized information.

(f)  Records.--All documents required in subsection (a) as well as any other accompanying documents shall be kept in the files of the court as a permanent record and shall be withheld from inspection except on order of court granted upon cause shown. Information identifying the birth parents of the adoptee shall not be required. The clerk may charge a filing fee in accordance with the court's regular fee schedule as approved by the president judge.

23c2908v

(July 7, 2006, P.L.618, No.96, eff. 60 days)

23c2909s

§ 2909.  Medical history information (Repealed).

23c2909v

 

2010 Repeal.  Section 2909 was repealed October 27, 2010, P.L.961, No.101, effective in 180 days.

23c2910s

§ 2910.  Penalty for unauthorized disclosure.

Any officer or employee of the court, other than a judge thereof, the Department of Health, the Department of Public Welfare or any agency who willfully discloses impounded or otherwise confidential information relating to an adoption, other than as expressly authorized and provided in this chapter, commits a misdemeanor of the third degree.

23c2910v

(Dec. 12, 1984, P.L.979, No.195, eff. 60 days; Dec. 20, 1995, P.L.685, No.76, eff. 60 days)

23c2911h

 

 

SUBCHAPTER B

RECORDS AND ACCESS TO INFORMATION

 

Sec.

2911.  Definitions.

2912.  Combined request for information.

2913.  Reasonable fees.

2914.  Immunity from liability.

2915.  Court and agency records.

2916.  Attorney records.

 

Enactment.  Subchapter B was added October 27, 2010, P.L.961, No.101, effective in 180 days.

Cross References.  Subchapter B is referred to in sections 2503, 2504, 2511 of this title.

23c2911s

§ 2911.  Definitions.

The following words and phrases when used in this subchapter shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"Agency records."  All information collected by an agency relating to a birth family, an adoptive family and an adoptee.

"Authorization form."  A form provided by the department on which an adoptee, an adoptive parent or a birth relative can authorize or prohibit the release of identifying information pursuant to the requirements of this chapter.

"Authorized representative."  An individual who is appointed to conduct a search under this chapter and who has completed a standardized training program as required by the department under this chapter.

"Court records."  All petitions, exhibits, reports, notes of testimony, decrees and other papers pertaining to a proceeding under this chapter or former statutes relating to adoption.

"Department."  The Department of Public Welfare of the Commonwealth.

"Medical history information."  Medical records and other information concerning an adoptee or an adoptee's birth family that is relevant to the present or future health care or medical treatment of the adoptee or the adoptee's birth family. The term includes, but is not limited to, the following:

(1)  Otherwise confidential or privileged information, if identifying information has been removed under section 2925 (relating to providing information from registry).

(2)  Information about the birth parents of a child that may concern a potential hereditary or congenital medical problem.

"Social history information."  The term includes, but is not limited to, the following:

(1)  Information about the adoptee and birth relatives of the adoptee, including economic, cultural and ethnic information.

(2)  A developmental history of the adoptee, including the circumstances at birth, early development and subsequent age-appropriate task development.

(3)  The social experiences of the adoptee, including abuse and neglect, out-of-home care and patterns of interpersonal relationships.

(4)  The educational experiences of the adoptee, including the name of schools attended and dates of enrollment, academic performance, extracurricular activities and special interests.

(5)  The current functioning of the adoptee, including behavioral patterns and relationships.

(6)  The circumstances surrounding the adoption.

"Summary of original birth record."  The summary of original birth record, consisting of only the names and ages of the birth parents, the date and county of the birth of the child and the name of the child given at birth.

23c2912s

§ 2912.  Combined request for information.

An individual authorized to receive both nonidentifying information and identifying information may file a single written request under Subchapter D (relating to release of information).

23c2913s

§ 2913.  Reasonable fees.

Any court or agency may charge reasonable fees for services provided under this chapter.

23c2914s

§ 2914.  Immunity from liability.

(a)  General rule.--A person or agency, including the Commonwealth and any of its governmental subdivisions, that participates in good faith in providing services under this chapter has immunity from civil liability that may otherwise result by reason of an action or a failure to act under this chapter.

(b)  Presumption of good faith.--For the purpose of a civil proceeding, the good faith of any person or agency that provides services pursuant to this chapter is presumed.

23c2915s

§ 2915.  Court and agency records.

(a)  General rule.--All court and agency records shall be maintained as a permanent record and withheld from inspection except as provided under this chapter.

(b)  Who may access court or agency records.--Only the following are authorized to access court or agency records for the purpose of releasing nonidentifying or identifying information under this chapter:

(1)  The court which finalized the adoption.

(2)  The agency that coordinated the adoption.

(3)  A successor agency authorized by the court which finalized the adoption.

(c)  Disposition of agency records upon closure.--

(1)  As soon as practicable, but not less than 30 days prior to the date on which an agency ceases to operate as a legal entity in this Commonwealth, the agency shall, unless it has applied to operate as a new legal entity, notify the department of its intention to cease operating.

(2)  Within this time period, the agency shall submit a plan to the department relating to the closure and transfer of case records to another agency. The plan shall be subject to approval by the department.

(3)  In preparation for its closure and transfer of case records, the agency shall label its case records to identify the respective court that finalized an adoption or where a petition to terminate parental rights or to adopt has been filed.

(4)  The department shall notify each court so identified by the agency of the name, address and telephone number of the agency to which case records have been transferred.

23c2916s

§ 2916.  Attorney records.

An attorney representing a party to an adoption proceeding or acting as counsel or guardian ad litem for a child in a proceeding under this part may forward records and information relating to the child, the child's birth family and the adoptive family to the court which finalized the adoption, as established by general rule by the Supreme Court. Such records and information shall be treated as court records for purposes of this chapter.

23c2921h

 

 

SUBCHAPTER C

INFORMATION REGISTRY

 

Sec.

2921.  Establishment of registry.

2922.  Informational material.

2923.  Filing information with registry.

2924.  Who may request information from registry.

2925.  Providing information from registry.

2926.  Rules and regulations.

 

Enactment.  Subchapter C was added October 27, 2010, P.L.961, No.101, effective in 180 days.

Cross References.  Subchapter C is referred to in sections 2933, 2934 of this title.

23c2921s

§ 2921.  Establishment of registry.

The department shall do all of the following:

(1)  Establish a Statewide confidential registry for the receipt, filing and retention of medical and social history information and authorization forms for all adoptions finalized or registered in this Commonwealth.

(2)  Prescribe and distribute forms on which an adoptee, an adoptive parent and a birth parent may:

(i)  Request identifying information or contact.

(ii)  Authorize or refuse to authorize the release of identifying information or contact.

(iii)  File and update information with the registry.

(3)  Retain information filed with the registry as a permanent record.

(4)  Disseminate the information pursuant to the requirements of this subchapter.

23c2922s

§ 2922.  Informational material.

The department shall publicize the availability of the registry and the manner in which information may be filed with and obtained from the registry.

23c2923s

§ 2923.  Filing information with registry.

An adoptee, an adoptive parent and a birth parent may at any time file and update medical and social history information with the registry on a form developed by the department.

23c2924s

§ 2924.  Who may request information from registry.

The following individuals may request information from the registry:

(1)  An adoptee who is at least 18 years of age.

(2)  An adoptive parent of an adoptee who is under 18 years of age, adjudicated incapacitated or deceased.

(3)  A legal guardian of an adoptee who is under 18 years of age or adjudicated incapacitated.

(4)  A descendant of a deceased adoptee.

(5)  The birth parent of an adoptee who is at least 21 years of age.

(6)  A parent of a birth parent of an adoptee who is at least 21 years of age if the birth parent consents, is adjudicated incapacitated or is deceased.

(7)  A birth sibling of an adoptee, if both the birth sibling and adoptee are at least 21 years of age, and:

(i)  the birth sibling remained in the custody of the birth parent and the birth parent consents, is deceased or adjudicated incapacitated;

(ii)  both the birth sibling and adoptee were adopted out of the same birth family; or

(iii)  the birth sibling was not adopted out of the birth family and did not remain in the custody of the birth parent.

23c2925s

§ 2925.  Providing information from registry.

(a)  Nonidentifying information.--Nonidentifying information, if available, shall be provided to the requester within 30 days of the request.

(b)  Identifying information.--

(1)  If an authorization form is on file, the department shall notify the requester within 30 days of the request whether information may be released.

(2)  If there is no authorization on file, the department shall designate an authorized representative to:

(i)  Use reasonable efforts to locate the subject of the request.

(ii)  If the subject of the request is located, obtain written authorization from the subject before any information is released.

(c)  Confidentiality of information.--In conducting a search, the court or agency shall ensure that no individual, other than a birth parent, is informed of the adoptee's existence and relationship to the birth parent.

(d)  When inquiry not mandatory.--An authorized representative of the court or agency conducting a search may not make an inquiry which the representative reasonably believes may compromise the confidentiality relating to the relationship between the adoptee and a birth parent of the adoptee.

(e)  Authorization form.--An authorization form allowing the release of identifying information may be withdrawn at any time by the individual who signed the authorization form.

(f)  Editing information.--Before the release of information from the registry, the department shall remove any identifying information, unless authorized in writing by the subject of the information to release the identifying information.

23c2925v

 

Cross References.  Section 2925 is referred to in section 2911 of this title.

23c2926s

§ 2926.  Rules and regulations.

The department shall promulgate rules and regulations necessary to implement this subchapter. The department may request, but shall not require, an agency to submit medical and social history information for adoptions finalized or registered in this Commonwealth prior to the effective date of this subchapter.

23c2931h

 

 

SUBCHAPTER D

RELEASE OF INFORMATION

 

Sec.

2931.  Access to information.

2932.  Nonidentifying information.

2933.  Identifying information.

2934.  Statement of medical and social history information.

2935.  Confidentiality.

2936.  Refusal to search.

2937.  Original birth record.

2938.  Rules and regulations.

 

Enactment.  Subchapter D was added October 27, 2010, P.L.961, No.101, effective in 180 days.

Cross References.  Subchapter D is referred to in section 2912 of this title.

23c2931s

§ 2931.  Access to information.

(a)  Who may access information.--The following individuals may file a written request for nonidentifying information or identifying information or contact with the court which finalized the adoption, the agency which coordinated the adoption or a successor agency:

(1)  An adoptee who is at least 18 years of age.

(2)  An adoptive parent of an adoptee who is:

(i)  under 18 years of age;

(ii)  adjudicated incapacitated and is 18 years of age or older; or

(iii)  deceased.

(3)  A legal guardian of an adoptee who is under 18 years of age or adjudicated incapacitated.

(4)  A descendant of a deceased adoptee.

(5)  A birth parent of an adoptee who is 21 years of age or older.

(6)  A parent of a birth parent of an adoptee who is 21 years of age or older, if the birth parent consents, is adjudicated incapacitated or is deceased.

(7)  A birth sibling of an adoptee, if both the birth sibling and adoptee are 21 years of age or older and:

(i)  the birth sibling remained in the custody of the birth parent and the birth parent consents, is deceased or adjudicated incapacitated;

(ii)  both the birth sibling and the adoptee were adopted out of the same birth family; or

(iii)  the birth sibling was not adopted out of the birth family and did not remain in the custody of the birth parent.

(b)  Who may be the subject of a request for information.--An individual enumerated under subsection (a) may request nonidentifying or identifying information regarding or contact with the following individuals:

(1)  An adoptee who is 21 years of age or older.

(2)  A birth parent of an adoptee.

(3)  A parent of a birth parent of an adoptee who is 21 years of age or older, if the birth parent consents, is adjudicated incapacitated or is deceased.

(4)  A birth sibling of an adoptee, if both the birth sibling and the adoptee are 21 years of age or older and:

(i)  the birth sibling remained in the custody of the birth parent and the birth parent consents, is deceased or adjudicated incapacitated;

(ii)  both the birth sibling and the adoptee were adopted out of the same birth family; or

(iii)  the birth sibling was not adopted out of the birth family and did not remain in the custody of the birth parent.

23c2932s

§ 2932.  Nonidentifying information.

(a)  Notice of receipt of request.--When the court or agency receives a written request for nonidentifying information, it shall, within 30 days, notify the individual requesting the information of its receipt of the request.

(b)  Furnishing nonidentifying information.--The court or agency shall, within 120 days, review its records and furnish to the requester any information concerning the adoption that will not compromise the confidentiality of the relationship between the adoptee and the adoptee's birth parent.

23c2933s

§ 2933.  Identifying information.

(a)  Notice of availability of records.--The court or agency shall, within 120 days of receiving a written request for identifying information or contact, do all of the following:

(1)  Determine whether it has in its possession any records relating to the adoptee.

(2)  Conduct a good faith search for identifying information, which search shall be commenced within 120 days. The search for information shall only be conducted by an authorized representative appointed by:

(i)  the court in which the adoption was finalized;

(ii)  the agency that coordinated the adoption;

(iii)  a successor, by merger or acquisition, of the agency that coordinated the adoption; or

(iv)  if neither the agency nor a successor exists, by an agency authorized by the court.

The authorized representative shall review the court and agency record for identifying information regarding the birth or adoptive family and shall determine whether an authorization form has been filed with the court or agency.

(3)  Notify any other court or agency listed in its records of the existence of the request for identifying information.

(4)  Ask any other court or agency listed in its records to advise if an authorization form has been filed.

(5)  Contact the information registry established under Subchapter C (relating to information registry), advise the registry of the request for identifying information and ask whether an authorization form has been filed.

(6)  Notify the requesting individual of its findings pursuant to this subsection.

(b)  No authorization form.--If an applicable authorization form is not located, all of the following apply:

(1)  The authorized representative shall use reasonable efforts to locate the subject of the search.

(2)  If the subject of the search is located, the authorized representative shall obtain written authorization from the subject before any identifying information is released or contact between the parties is made.

(3)  If the requester is an adoptee seeking the identity of a birth parent, the identity of a deceased birth parent may be disclosed.

(4)  If the requester is an adoptee seeking the identity of both birth parents and only one birth parent agrees to the disclosure, only the information relating to that birth parent shall be disclosed.

(c)  Withdrawal of authorization form.--An individual may withdraw the individual's authorization form at any time.

23c2934s

§ 2934.  Statement of medical and social history information.

(a)  Filing places.--A statement regarding medical and social history information may be filed with the following:

(1)  The court that terminated parental rights.

(2)  The court that finalized the adoption.

(3)  The agency that coordinated the adoption.

(4)  The information registry established under Subchapter C (relating to information registry).

(b)  Individuals authorized to file and request.--The following individuals may at any time file, update and request a statement regarding medical and social history information:

(1)  An adoptee who is 18 years of age or older.

(2)  An adoptive parent or legal guardian of an adoptee who is under 18 years of age or adjudicated incapacitated.

(3)  A descendant of a deceased adoptee.

(4)  A birth parent.

(5)  A legal guardian of an adjudicated incapacitated birth parent.

(6)  A survivor of a deceased birth parent.

(c)  Maintenance of record.--A statement regarding medical and social history information shall be maintained as a permanent record.

(d)  Forwarding statement.--If a statement regarding medical and social history information is filed in the court that terminated parental rights, a copy of the statement shall be forwarded to the court that finalized the adoption and the information registry established under Subchapter C.

(e)  Notice of filing.--

(1)  Within 30 days of filing of a statement regarding medical and social history information, the court, agency or information registry shall give notice of its receipt to the individual who filed the statement.

(2)  Within 120 days after a statement is filed, the court, agency or information registry shall give notice of the filing to the individual who is at least 21 years of age and to whom the information is intended to benefit, if known or identified in its records.

(f)  Request for information.--

(1)  When the court or agency receives a written request for medical and social history information, it shall notify the requester within 120 days whether it possesses any medical and social history information relating to the adoption.

(2)  Within 120 days of locating medical and social history information, the court or agency shall do the following:

(i)  For nonidentifying information, review and furnish to the requester any medical and social history information that will not compromise the confidentiality of the relationship between the adoptee and the adoptee's birth parent.

(ii)  For identifying information, if an authorization form is on file with the court, agency or information registry, furnish to the requester the available identifying information in its records.

(g)  No information or authorization form on file.--If a court or agency receives a request for medical and social history information and finds that no such information is in its records or that no authorization form is on file, the court or agency shall do the following:

(1)  Contact the subject of the request and ask that the subject:

(i)  provide nonidentifying information for the benefit of the requester; or

(ii)  file an authorization form.

(2)  If the subject of the request cannot be located from information contained in the court records, appoint an authorized representative to use reasonable efforts to locate the subject.

(3)  If nonidentifying information is provided by the subject of the request, provide the nonidentifying information to the requester.

(4)  If an authorization form is filed, provide identifying information to the requester.

(h)  Deceased birth parent.--If the requester is an adoptee seeking information about a birth parent and the birth parent is deceased, any information on file regarding the deceased birth parent may be disclosed.

23c2935s

§ 2935.  Confidentiality.

(a)  General rule.--In conducting a search, the court or agency shall ensure that no individual, other than a birth parent, is informed of the adoptee's existence and relationship to the birth parent of the adoptee.

(b)  When inquiry not mandatory.--An authorized representative of the court or agency conducting a search may not make an inquiry which the representative reasonably believes may compromise the confidentiality relating to the relationship between the adoptee and a birth parent of the adoptee.

23c2936s

§ 2936.  Refusal to search.

(a)  Agency.--

(1)  If an agency is satisfied that a request could cause physical or emotional harm to the requesting individual or others, the agency may decline to conduct a search to determine whether an individual will authorize the disclosure of identifying information or contact under this chapter.

(2)  An agency may decline to commence or conduct a search required under this chapter if the requester fails to pay the reasonable costs associated with commencing or conducting the search.

(3)  (i)  An agency that declines to conduct a search shall refer the request to the court that finalized the adoption and inform the court of its reasons for declining the request.

(ii)  The agency shall notify the requester of the referral and identify the court to which the referral was made.

(b)  Court.--

(1)  If a court is satisfied that a request could cause physical or emotional harm to the requesting individual or others, the court receiving a request for identifying information or contact may decline to perform a search.

(2)  A court that declines to conduct a search shall inform the requesting individual of its decision in writing and of the procedures for appeal of that decision.

23c2937s

§ 2937.  Original birth record.

(a)  General rule.--No disclosure of information shall be made by a court, an agency, the Department of Health or any other Commonwealth agency regarding an adoptee's original birth record or regarding the documents or proof on which an amended certificate of birth is based or relating in any way to the birth parents unless the disclosure is made pursuant to the provisions of this section.

(b)  Filing of consent to issue copy of summary of original birth record.--

(1)  The birth parents may, at the time their parental rights are terminated or at any time thereafter, place on file with the court and the Department of Health a consent form granting permission for the court or the Department of Health to issue a copy of the summary of the adoptee's original birth record, which summary discloses the identity of the birth parents, at any time after the adoptee turns 18 years of age or, if less than 18 years of age, to the adoptive parent or legal guardian.

(2)  If only one birth parent has filed a consent, a copy of the summary of the original birth record naming only the consenting birth parent shall be issued.

(3)  The consent of a birth parent may be withdrawn at any time by filing a withdrawal of consent form with the court and the Department of Health.

(c)  Duty of Department of Health.--The Department of Health shall prescribe by regulation the procedure and forms to be utilized for the giving, updating and withdrawal of consent.

23c2938s

§ 2938.  Rules and regulations.

The department shall promulgate rules and regulations implementing a standardized training program for court-appointed and agency-appointed authorized representatives conducting searches under this subchapter.

23c3101h

 

 

PART IV

DIVORCE

 

Chapter

  31.  Preliminary Provisions

  33.  Dissolution of Marital Status

  35.  Property Rights

  37.  Alimony and Support

  39.  Mediation

 

Enactment.  Part IV was added December 19, 1990, P.L.1240, No.206, effective in 90 days.

Construction.  See section 5 of Act 206 of 1990 in the appendix to this title for special provisions relating to construction of Divorce Code.

 

 

CHAPTER 31

PRELIMINARY PROVISIONS

 

Sec.

3101.  Short title of part.

3102.  Legislative findings and intent.

3103.  Definitions.

3104.  Bases of jurisdiction.

3105.  Effect of agreement between parties.

3106.  Premarital agreements.

 

Enactment.  Chapter 31 was added December 19, 1990, P.L.1240, No.206, effective in 90 days.

23c3101s

§ 3101.  Short title of part.

This part shall be known and may be cited as the Divorce Code.

23c3102s

§ 3102.  Legislative findings and intent.

(a)  Policy.--The family is the basic unit in society and the protection and preservation of the family is of paramount public concern. Therefore, it is the policy of the Commonwealth to:

(1)  Make the law for legal dissolution of marriage effective for dealing with the realities of matrimonial experience.

(2)  Encourage and effect reconciliation and settlement of differences between spouses, especially where children are involved.

(3)  Give primary consideration to the welfare of the family rather than the vindication of private rights or the punishment of matrimonial wrongs.

(4)  Mitigate the harm to the spouses and their children caused by the legal dissolution of the marriage.

(5)  Seek causes rather than symptoms of family disintegration and cooperate with and utilize the resources available to deal with family problems.

(6)  Effectuate economic justice between parties who are divorced or separated and grant or withhold alimony according to the actual need and ability to pay of the parties and insure a fair and just determination and settlement of their property rights.

(b)  Construction of part.--The objectives set forth in subsection (a) shall be considered in construing provisions of this part and shall be regarded as expressing the legislative intent.

23c3103s

§ 3103.  Definitions.

The following words and phrases when used in this part shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"Alimony."  An order for support granted by this Commonwealth or any other state to a spouse or former spouse in conjunction with a decree granting a divorce or annulment.

"Alimony pendente lite."  An order for temporary support granted to a spouse during the pendency of a divorce or annulment proceeding.

"Divorce."  Divorce from the bonds of matrimony.

"Grounds for divorce."  The grounds enumerated in section 3301 (relating to grounds for divorce).

"Irretrievable breakdown."  Estrangement due to marital difficulties with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.

"Qualified professionals."  Includes marriage counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, ministers, priests, rabbis or other persons who, by virtue of their training and experience, are able to provide counseling.

"Separate and apart."  Cessation of cohabitation, whether living in the same residence or not. In the event a complaint in divorce is filed and served, it shall be presumed that the parties commenced to live separate and apart not later than the date that the complaint was served.

"Spousal support."  Care, maintenance and financial assistance.

23c3103v

(Nov. 29, 2004, P.L.1357, No.175, eff. 60 days)

 

2004 Amendment.  Act 175 amended the def. of "separate and apart." Section 5(1) of Act 175 provided that the amendment shall apply to complaints served before, on or after the effective date of par. (1).

Cross References.  Section 3103 is referred to in section 5948 of Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure).

23c3104s

§ 3104.  Bases of jurisdiction.

(a)  Jurisdiction.--The courts shall have original jurisdiction in cases of divorce and for the annulment of void or voidable marriages and shall determine, in conjunction with any decree granting a divorce or annulment, the following matters, if raised in the pleadings, and issue appropriate decrees or orders with reference thereto, and may retain continuing jurisdiction thereof:

(1)  The determination and disposition of property rights and interests between spouses, including any rights created by any antenuptial, postnuptial or separation agreement and including the partition of property held as tenants by the entireties or otherwise and any accounting between them, and the order of any spousal support, alimony, alimony pendente lite, counsel fees or costs authorized by law.

(2)  The future care, custody and visitation rights as to children of the marriage or purported marriage.

(3)  Any support or assistance which shall be paid for the benefit of any children of the marriage or purported marriage.

(4)  Any property settlement involving any of the matters set forth in paragraphs (1), (2) and (3) as submitted by the parties.

(5)  Any other matters pertaining to the marriage and divorce or annulment authorized by law and which fairly and expeditiously may be determined and disposed of in such action.

(b)  Residence and domicile of parties.--No spouse is entitled to commence an action for divorce or annulment under this part unless at least one of the parties has been a bona fide resident in this Commonwealth for at least six months immediately previous to the commencement of the action. Both parties shall be competent witnesses to prove their respective residence, and proof of actual residence within this Commonwealth for six months shall create a presumption of domicile within this Commonwealth.

(c)  Powers of court.--The court has authority to entertain an action under this part notwithstanding the fact that the marriage of the parties and the cause for divorce occurred outside of this Commonwealth and that both parties were at the time of the occurrence domiciled outside this Commonwealth. The court also has the power to annul void or voidable marriages celebrated outside this Commonwealth at a time when neither party was domiciled within this Commonwealth.

(d)  Foreign forum.--After the dissolution or annulment of a marriage in a foreign forum where a matter under subsection (a) has not been decided, a court of this Commonwealth shall have jurisdiction to determine a matter under subsection (a) to the fullest extent allowed under the Constitution of the United States.

(e)  Venue.--A proceeding for divorce or annulment may be brought in the county:

(1)  where the defendant resides;

(2)  if the defendant resides outside of this Commonwealth, where the plaintiff resides;

(3)  of matrimonial domicile, if the plaintiff has continuously resided in the county;

(4)  prior to six months after the date of final separation and with agreement of the defendant, where the plaintiff resides or, if neither party continues to reside in the county of matrimonial domicile, where either party resides; or

(5)  after six months after the date of final separation, where either party resides.

23c3104v

 

Suspension by Court Rule.  Section 3104(e) was suspended by Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure No. 1920.91, as amended May 5, 1997, insofar as it applies to the practice and procedure in actions for divorce or annulment of marriage.

23c3105s

§ 3105.  Effect of agreement between parties.

(a)  Enforcement.--A party to an agreement regarding matters within the jurisdiction of the court under this part, whether or not the agreement has been merged or incorporated into the decree, may utilize a remedy or sanction set forth in this part to enforce the agreement to the same extent as though the agreement had been an order of the court except as provided to the contrary in the agreement.

(b)  Certain provisions subject to modification.--A provision of an agreement regarding child support, visitation or custody shall be subject to modification by the court upon a showing of changed circumstances.

(c)  Certain provisions not subject to modification.--In the absence of a specific provision to the contrary appearing in the agreement, a provision regarding the disposition of existing property rights and interests between the parties, alimony, alimony pendente lite, counsel fees or expenses shall not be subject to modification by the court.

23c3106s

§ 3106.  Premarital agreements.

(a)  General rule.--The burden of proof to set aside a premarital agreement shall be upon the party alleging the agreement to be unenforceable. A premarital agreement shall not be enforceable if the party seeking to set aside the agreement proves, by clear and convincing evidence, that:

(1)  the party did not execute the agreement voluntarily; or

(2)  the party, before execution of the agreement:

(i)  was not provided a fair and reasonable disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party;

(ii)  did not voluntarily and expressly waive, in writing, any right to disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party beyond the disclosure provided; and

(iii)  did not have an adequate knowledge of the property or financial obligations of the other party.

(b)  Definition.--As used in this section, the term "premarital agreement" means an agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage and to be effective upon marriage.

23c3106v

(Nov. 29, 2004, P.L.1357, No.175, eff. 60 days)

 

2004 Amendment.  Act 175 added section 3106. Section 5(2) of Act 175 provided that section 3106 shall apply to premarital agreements executed on or after the effective date of par. (2).

23c3301h

 

 

CHAPTER 33

DISSOLUTION OF MARITAL STATUS

 

Subchapter

   A.  General Provisions

   B.  Procedure

   C.  Attacks Upon Decrees

 

Enactment.  Chapter 33 was added December 19, 1990, P.L.1240, No.206, effective in 90 days.

 

 

SUBCHAPTER A

GENERAL PROVISIONS

 

Sec.

3301.  Grounds for divorce.

3302.  Counseling.

3303.  Annulment of void and voidable marriages.

3304.  Grounds for annulment of void marriages.

3305.  Grounds for annulment of voidable marriages.

3306.  Proceedings to determine marital status.

3307.  Defenses.

3308.  Action where defendant suffering from mental disorder.

3309.  General appearance and collusion.

23c3301s

§ 3301.  Grounds for divorce.

(a)  Fault.--The court may grant a divorce to the innocent and injured spouse whenever it is judged that the other spouse has:

(1)  Committed willful and malicious desertion, and absence from the habitation of the injured and innocent spouse, without a reasonable cause, for the period of one or more years.

(2)  Committed adultery.

(3)  By cruel and barbarous treatment, endangered the life or health of the injured and innocent spouse.

(4)  Knowingly entered into a bigamous marriage while a former marriage is still subsisting.

(5)  Been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of two or more years upon conviction of having committed a crime.

(6)  Offered such indignities to the innocent and injured spouse as to render that spouse's condition intolerable and life burdensome.

(b)  Institutionalization.--The court may grant a divorce from a spouse upon the ground that insanity or serious mental disorder has resulted in confinement in a mental institution for at least 18 months immediately before the commencement of an action under this part and where there is no reasonable prospect that the spouse will be discharged from inpatient care during the 18 months subsequent to the commencement of the action. A presumption that no prospect of discharge exists shall be established by a certificate of the superintendent of the institution to that effect and which includes a supporting statement of a treating physician.

(c)  Mutual consent.--The court may grant a divorce where it is alleged that the marriage is irretrievably broken and 90 days have elapsed from the date of commencement of an action under this part and an affidavit has been filed by each of the parties evidencing that each of the parties consents to the divorce.

(d)  Irretrievable breakdown.--

(1)  The court may grant a divorce where a complaint has been filed alleging that the marriage is irretrievably broken and an affidavit has been filed alleging that the parties have lived separate and apart for a period of at least two years and that the marriage is irretrievably broken and the defendant either:

(i)  Does not deny the allegations set forth in the affidavit.

(ii)  Denies one or more of the allegations set forth in the affidavit but, after notice and hearing, the court determines that the parties have lived separate and apart for a period of at least two years and that the marriage is irretrievably broken.

(2)  If a hearing has been held pursuant to paragraph (1)(ii) and the court determines that there is a reasonable prospect of reconciliation, then the court shall continue the matter for a period not less than 90 days nor more than 120 days unless the parties agree to a period in excess of 120 days. During this period, the court shall require counseling as provided in section 3302 (relating to counseling). If the parties have not reconciled at the expiration of the time period and one party states under oath that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court shall determine whether the marriage is irretrievably broken. If the court determines that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court shall grant the divorce. Otherwise, the court shall deny the divorce.

(e)  No hearing required in certain cases.--If grounds for divorce alleged in the complaint or counterclaim are established under subsection (c) or (d), the court shall grant a divorce without requiring a hearing on any other grounds.

23c3301v

 

Cross References.  Section 3301 is referred to in sections 1702, 3103, 3302, 3307, 3323 of this title.

23c3302s

§ 3302.  Counseling.

(a)  Indignities.--Whenever indignities under section 3301(a)(6) (relating to grounds for divorce) is the ground for divorce, the court shall require up to a maximum of three counseling sessions where either of the parties requests it.

(b)  Mutual consent.--Whenever mutual consent under section 3301(c) is the ground for divorce, the court shall require up to a maximum of three counseling sessions within the 90 days following the commencement of the action where either of the parties requests it.

(c)  Irretrievable breakdown.--Whenever the court orders a continuation period as provided for irretrievable breakdown in section 3301(d)(2), the court shall require up to a maximum of three counseling sessions within the time period where either of the parties requests it or may require such counseling where the parties have at least one child under 16 years of age.

(d)  Notification of availability of counseling.--Whenever section 3301(a)(6), (c) or (d) is the ground for divorce, the court shall, upon the commencement of an action under this part, notify both parties of the availability of counseling and, upon request, provide both parties a list of qualified professionals who provide such services.

(e)  Choice of qualified professionals unrestricted.--The choice of a qualified professional shall be at the option of the parties, and the professional need not be selected from the list provided by the court.

(f)  Report.--Where the court requires counseling, a report shall be made by the qualified professional stating that the parties did or did not attend.

23c3302v

 

Cross References.  Section 3302 is referred to in section 3301 of this title.

23c3303s

§ 3303.  Annulment of void and voidable marriages.

(a)  General rule.--In all cases where a supposed or alleged marriage has been contracted which is void or voidable under this title or under applicable law, either party to the supposed or alleged marriage may bring an action in annulment to have it declared void in accordance with the procedures provided by this part and prescribed by general rules.

(b)  Common-law marriage.--In the case of a purported common-law marriage where a party was under 18 years of age, a parent or guardian of the minor may bring a declaratory judgment proceeding during the party's minority to have the marriage declared void.

23c3303v

 

Cross References.  Section 3303 is referred to in section 3304 of this title.

23c3304s

§ 3304.  Grounds for annulment of void marriages.

(a)  General rule.--Where there has been no confirmation by cohabitation following the removal of an impediment, the supposed or alleged marriage of a person shall be deemed void in the following cases:

(1)  Where either party at the time of such marriage had an existing spouse and the former marriage had not been annulled nor had there been a divorce except where that party had obtained a decree of presumed death of the former spouse.

(2)  Where the parties to such marriage are related within the degrees of consanguinity prohibited by section 1304(e) (relating to restrictions on issuance of license).

(3)  Where either party to such marriage was incapable of consenting by reason of insanity or serious mental disorder or otherwise lacked capacity to consent or did not intend to consent to the marriage.

(4)  Where either party to a purported common-law marriage was under 18 years of age.

(b)  Procedures.--In all cases of marriages which are void, the marriage may be annulled as set forth in section 3303 (relating to annulment of void and voidable marriages) or its invalidity may be declared in any collateral proceeding.

23c3304v

 

Cross References.  Section 3304 is referred to in section 1702 of this title.

23c3305s

§ 3305.  Grounds for annulment of voidable marriages.

(a)  General rule.--The marriage of a person shall be deemed voidable and subject to annulment in the following cases:

(1)  Where either party to the marriage was under 16 years of age unless the marriage was expressly authorized by the court.

(2)  Where either party was 16 or 17 years of age and lacked the consent of parent or guardian or express authorization of the court and has not subsequently ratified the marriage upon reaching 18 years of age and an action for annulment is commenced within 60 days after the marriage ceremony.

(3)  Where either party to the marriage was under the influence of alcohol or drugs and an action for annulment is commenced within 60 days after the marriage ceremony.

(4)  Where either party to the marriage was at the time of the marriage and still is naturally and incurably impotent unless the condition was known to the other party prior to the marriage.

(5)  Where one party was induced to enter into the marriage due to fraud, duress, coercion or force attributable to the other party and there has been no subsequent voluntary cohabitation after knowledge of the fraud or release from the effects of fraud, duress, coercion or force.

(b)  Status of voidable marriage.--In all cases of marriages which are voidable, either party to the marriage may seek and obtain an annulment of the marriage but, until a decree of annulment is obtained from a court of competent jurisdiction, the marriage shall be valid. The validity of a voidable marriage shall not be subject to attack or question by any person if it is subsequently confirmed by the parties to the marriage or if either party has died.

23c3306s

§ 3306.  Proceedings to determine marital status.

When the validity of a marriage is denied or doubted, either or both of the parties to the marriage may bring an action for a declaratory judgment seeking a declaration of the validity or invalidity of the marriage and, upon proof of the validity or invalidity of the marriage, the marriage shall be declared valid or invalid by decree of the court and, unless reversed upon appeal, the declaration shall be conclusive upon all persons concerned.

23c3306v

 

Cross References.  Section 3306 is referred to in section 7541 of Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure).

23c3307s

§ 3307.  Defenses.

(a)  General rule.--Existing common-law defenses are retained as to the grounds enumerated in section 3301(a) and (b) (relating to grounds for divorce). The defenses of condonation, connivance, collusion, recrimination and provocation are abolished as to the grounds enumerated in section 3301(c) and (d).

(b)  Adultery.--In an action for divorce on the ground of adultery, it is a good defense and a perpetual bar against the action if the defendant alleges and proves, or if it appears in the evidence, that the plaintiff:

(1)  has been guilty of like conduct;

(2)  has admitted the defendant into conjugal society or embraces after the plaintiff knew of the fact;

(3)  allowed the defendant's prostitution or received hire from it; or

(4)  exposed the defendant to lewd company whereby the defendant became involved in the adultery.

23c3308s

§ 3308.  Action where defendant suffering from mental disorder.

If a spouse is insane or suffering from serious mental disorder, an action may be commenced under this part against that spouse upon any ground for divorce or annulment.

23c3309s

§ 3309.  General appearance and collusion.

The entry of a general appearance by, or in behalf of, a defendant does not constitute collusion. Collusion shall be found to exist only where the parties conspired to fabricate grounds for divorce or annulment, agreed to and did commit perjury or perpetrated fraud on the court. Negotiation and discussion of terms of property settlement and other matters arising by reason of contemplated divorce or annulment do not constitute collusion.

23c3321h

 

 

SUBCHAPTER B

PROCEDURE

 

Sec.

3321.  Hearing by master.

3322.  Jury trial.

3323.  Decree of court.

23c3321s

§ 3321.  Hearing by master.

The court may appoint a master to hear testimony on all or some issues, except issues of custody and paternity, and return the record and a transcript of the testimony together with a report and recommendation as prescribed by general rules, or a judge of the court in chambers may appoint a master to hold a nonrecord hearing and to make recommendations and return the same to the court, in which case either party may demand a hearing de novo before the court.

23c3321v

 

Suspension by Court Rule.  Section 3321 was suspended by Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure No. 1920.91, as amended May 5, 1997, insofar as it prohibits the appointment of masters in partial custody or visitation matters.

23c3322s

§ 3322.  Jury trial.

(a)  Application for jury trial.--After service of the complaint in divorce or annulment on the defendant in the manner prescribed by general rules or entry of a general appearance for the defendant, if either of the parties desires any matter of fact that is affirmed by one and denied by the other to be tried by a jury, that party may take a rule upon the opposite party, to be allowed by a judge of the court, to show cause why the issues of fact set forth in the rule should not be tried by a jury, which rule shall be served upon the opposite party or counsel for the opposite party.

(b)  Disposition of application.--Upon the return of the rule, after hearing, the court may discharge it, make it absolute or frame issues itself. Only the issues ordered by the court shall be tried. The rule shall not be made absolute when, in the opinion of the court, a trial by jury cannot be had without prejudice to the public morals.

23c3323s

§ 3323.  Decree of court.

(a)  General rule.--In all matrimonial causes, the court may either dismiss the complaint or enter a decree of divorce or annulment of the marriage.

(b)  Contents of decree.--A decree granting a divorce or an annulment shall include, after a full hearing, where these matters are raised in any pleadings, an order determining and disposing of existing property rights and interests between the parties, custody, partial custody and visitation rights, child support, alimony, reasonable attorney fees, costs and expenses and any other related matters, including the enforcement of agreements voluntarily entered into between the parties. In the enforcement of the rights of any party to any of these matters, the court shall have all necessary powers, including, but not limited to, the power of contempt and the power to attach wages.

(c)  Bifurcation.--(Deleted by amendment).

(c.1)  Bifurcation.--With the consent of both parties, the court may enter a decree of divorce or annulment prior to the final determination and disposition of the matters provided for in subsection (b). In the absence of the consent of both parties, the court may enter a decree of divorce or annulment prior to the final determination and disposition of the matters provided for in subsection (b) if:

(1)  grounds have been established as provided in subsection (g); and

(2)  the moving party has demonstrated that:

(i)  compelling circumstances exist for the entry of the decree of divorce or annulment; and

(ii)  sufficient economic protections have been provided for the other party during the pendency of the disposition of the matters provided for in subsection (b).

(d)  Substitution for deceased party.--If one of the parties dies after the decree of divorce has been entered, but prior to the final determination in such proceeding of the property rights and interests of the parties under this part, the personal representative of the deceased party shall be substituted as a party as provided by law and the action shall proceed.

(d.1)  Death of a party.--In the event one party dies during the course of divorce proceedings, no decree of divorce has been entered and grounds have been established as provided in subsection (g), the parties' economic rights and obligations arising under the marriage shall be determined under this part rather than under 20 Pa.C.S. (relating to decedents, estates and fiduciaries).

(e)  Costs.--The court may award costs to the party in whose favor the order or decree shall be entered or may order that each party shall pay their own costs or may order that costs be divided equitably as it shall appear just and reasonable.

(f)  Equity power and jurisdiction of the court.--In all matrimonial causes, the court shall have full equity power and jurisdiction and may issue injunctions or other orders which are necessary to protect the interests of the parties or to effectuate the purposes of this part and may grant such other relief or remedy as equity and justice require against either party or against any third person over whom the court has jurisdiction and who is involved in or concerned with the disposition of the cause.

(g)  Grounds established.--For purposes of subsections (c.1) and (d.1), grounds are established as follows:

(1)  In the case of an action for divorce under section 3301(a) or (b) (relating to grounds for divorce), the court adopts a report of the master or makes its own findings that grounds for divorce exist.

(2)  In the case of an action for divorce under section 3301(c), both parties have filed affidavits of consent.

(3)  In the case of an action for divorce under section 3301(d), an affidavit has been filed and no counter-affidavit has been filed or, if a counter-affidavit has been filed denying the affidavit's averments, the court determines that the marriage is irretrievably broken and the parties have lived separate and apart for at least two years at the time of the filing of the affidavit.

23c3323v

(Nov. 29, 2004, P.L.1357, No.175, eff. 60 days)

 

2004 Amendment.  Act 175 added subsecs. (c.1), (d.1) and (g) and deleted subsec. (c). See section 5(3), (4) and (5) of Act 175 in the appendix to this title for special provisions relating to applicability.

Cross References.  Section 3323 is referred to in sections  2106, 2203, 2507, 6111.1, 6111.2 of Title 20 (Decedents, Estates and Fiduciaries).

23c3331h

 

 

SUBCHAPTER C

ATTACKS UPON DECREES

 

Sec.

3331.  Limitations on attacks upon decrees.

3332.  Opening or vacating decrees.

3333.  Res judicata and estoppel.

23c3331s

§ 3331.  Limitations on attacks upon decrees.

The validity of a decree of divorce or annulment issued by a court shall not be questioned, except by appeal, in any court or place in this Commonwealth after the death of either party to the proceeding. If it is shown that a party who subsequently attempts to question the validity of the decree had full knowledge of the facts and circumstances later complained of at the time of issuance of the decree or failed to take any action despite this knowledge within two years after the date of the decree, the party shall be barred from questioning the decree, and it shall be valid in all courts and places within this Commonwealth.

23c3332s

§ 3332.  Opening or vacating decrees.

A motion to open a decree of divorce or annulment may be made only within the period limited by 42 Pa.C.S. § 5505 (relating to modification of orders) and not thereafter. The motion may lie where it is alleged that the decree was procured by intrinsic fraud or that there is new evidence relating to the cause of action which will sustain the attack upon its validity. A motion to vacate a decree or strike a judgment alleged to be void because of extrinsic fraud, lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter or a fatal defect apparent upon the face of the record must be made within five years after entry of the final decree. Intrinsic fraud relates to a matter adjudicated by the judgment, including perjury and false testimony, whereas extrinsic fraud relates to matters collateral to the judgment which have the consequence of precluding a fair hearing or presentation of one side of the case.

23c3333s

§ 3333.  Res judicata and estoppel.

The validity of a divorce or annulment decree granted by a court having jurisdiction over the subject matter may not be questioned by a party who was subject to the personal jurisdiction of the court except by direct appeal provided or prescribed by law. A party who sought and obtained a decree, financed or agreed to its procurement, or accepted a property settlement, alimony pendente lite or alimony pursuant to the terms of the decree, or who remarries after the decree, or is guilty of laches, is barred from making a collateral attack upon the validity of the decree unless, by clear and convincing evidence, it is established that fraud by the other party prevented the making of a timely appeal from the divorce or annulment decree.

23c3501h

 

 

CHAPTER 35

PROPERTY RIGHTS

 

Sec.

3501.  Definitions.

3502.  Equitable division of marital property.

3503.  Effect of divorce on property rights generally.

3504.  Disposition of property after termination of marriage.

3505.  Disposition of property to defeat obligations.

3506.  Statement of reasons for distribution.

3507.  Division of entireties property between divorced persons.

3508.  Conveyance of entireties property to divorced spouse.

 

Enactment.  Chapter 35 was added December 19, 1990, P.L.1240, No.206, effective in 90 days.

Cross References.  Chapter 35 is referred to in section 3701 of this title.

23c3501s

§ 3501.  Definitions.

(a)  General rule.--As used in this chapter, "marital property" means all property acquired by either party during the marriage and the increase in value of any nonmarital property acquired pursuant to paragraphs (1) and (3) as measured and determined under subsection (a.1). However, marital property does not include:

(1)  Property acquired prior to marriage or property acquired in exchange for property acquired prior to the marriage.

(2)  Property excluded by valid agreement of the parties entered into before, during or after the marriage.

(3)  Property acquired by gift, except between spouses, bequest, devise or descent or property acquired in exchange for such property.

(4)  Property acquired after final separation until the date of divorce, except for property acquired in exchange for marital assets.

(5)  Property which a party has sold, granted, conveyed or otherwise disposed of in good faith and for value prior to the date of final separation.

(6)  Veterans' benefits exempt from attachment, levy or seizure pursuant to the act of September 2, 1958 (Public Law 85-857, 72 Stat. 1229), as amended, except for those benefits received by a veteran where the veteran has waived a portion of his military retirement pay in order to receive veterans' compensation.

(7)  Property to the extent to which the property has been mortgaged or otherwise encumbered in good faith for value prior to the date of final separation.

(8)  Any payment received as a result of an award or settlement for any cause of action or claim which accrued prior to the marriage or after the date of final separation regardless of when the payment was received.

(a.1)  Measuring and determining the increase in value of nonmarital property.--The increase in value of any nonmarital property acquired pursuant to subsection (a)(1) and (3) shall be measured from the date of marriage or later acquisition date to either the date of final separation or the date as close to the hearing on equitable distribution as possible, whichever date results in a lesser increase. Any decrease in value of the nonmarital property of a party shall be offset against any increase in value of the nonmarital property of that party. However, a decrease in value of the nonmarital property of a party shall not be offset against any increase in value of the nonmarital property of the other party or against any other marital property subject to equitable division.

(b)  Presumption.--All real or personal property acquired by either party during the marriage is presumed to be marital property regardless of whether title is held individually or by the parties in some form of co-ownership such as joint tenancy, tenancy in common or tenancy by the entirety. The presumption of marital property is overcome by a showing that the property was acquired by a method listed in subsection (a).

(c)  Defined benefit retirement plans.--Notwithstanding subsections (a), (a.1) and (b):

(1)  In the case of the marital portion of a defined benefit retirement plan being distributed by means of a deferred distribution, the defined benefit plan shall be allocated between its marital and nonmarital portions solely by use of a coverture fraction. The denominator of the coverture fraction shall be the number of months the employee spouse worked to earn the total benefit and the numerator shall be the number of such months during which the parties were married and not finally separated. The benefit to which the coverture fraction is applied shall include all postseparation enhancements except for enhancements arising from postseparation monetary contributions made by the employee spouse, including the gain or loss on such contributions.

(2)  In the case of the marital portion of a defined benefit retirement plan being distributed by means of an immediate offset, the defined benefit plan shall be allocated between its marital and nonmarital portions solely by use of a coverture fraction. The denominator of the coverture fraction shall be the number of months the employee spouse worked to earn the accrued benefit as of a date as close to the time of trial as reasonably possible and the numerator shall be the number of such months during which the parties were married and not finally separated. The benefit to which the coverture fraction is applied shall include all postseparation enhancements up to a date as close to the time of trial as reasonably possible except for enhancements arising from postseparation monetary contributions made by the employee spouse, including the gain or loss on such contributions.

23c3501v

(Nov. 29, 2004, P.L.1357, No.175, eff. 60 days)

 

2004 Amendment.  Act 175 amended subsec. (a) and added subsecs. (a.1) and (c). See section 5(6) of Act 175 in the appendix to this title for special provisions relating to applicability.

Equitable Distribution Proceedings.  Section 1 of Act 4 of 2005 provided that subsec. (c) shall apply to all equitable distribution proceedings pending on or after the effective date of section 1.

23c3502s

§ 3502.  Equitable division of marital property.

(a)  General rule.-- Upon the request of either party in an action for divorce or annulment, the court shall equitably divide, distribute or assign, in kind or otherwise, the marital property between the parties without regard to marital misconduct in such percentages and in such manner as the court deems just after considering all relevant factors. The court may consider each marital asset or group of assets independently and apply a different percentage to each marital asset or group of assets. Factors which are relevant to the equitable division of marital property include the following:

(1)  The length of the marriage.

(2)  Any prior marriage of either party.

(3)  The age, health, station, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties.

(4)  The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party.

(5)  The opportunity of each party for future acquisitions of capital assets and income.

(6)  The sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits.

(7)  The contribution or dissipation of each party in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation or appreciation of the marital property, including the contribution of a party as homemaker.

(8)  The value of the property set apart to each party.

(9)  The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage.

(10)  The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property is to become effective.

(10.1)  The Federal, State and local tax ramifications associated with each asset to be divided, distributed or assigned, which ramifications need not be immediate and certain.

(10.2)  The expense of sale, transfer or liquidation associated with a particular asset, which expense need not be immediate and certain.

(11)  Whether the party will be serving as the custodian of any dependent minor children.

(b)  Lien.--The court may impose a lien or charge upon property of a party as security for the payment of alimony or any other award for the other party.

(c)  Family home.--The court may award, during the pendency of the action or otherwise, to one or both of the parties the right to reside in the marital residence.

(d)  Life insurance.--The court may direct the continued maintenance and beneficiary designations of existing policies insuring the life or health of either party which were originally purchased during the marriage and owned by or within the effective control of either party. Where it is necessary to protect the interests of a party, the court may also direct the purchase of, and beneficiary designations on, a policy insuring the life or health of either party.

(e)  Powers of the court.--If, at any time, a party has failed to comply with an order of equitable distribution, as provided for in this chapter or with the terms of an agreement as entered into between the parties, after hearing, the court may, in addition to any other remedy available under this part, in order to effect compliance with its order:

(1)  enter judgment;

(2)  authorize the taking and seizure of the goods and chattels and collection of the rents and profits of the real and personal, tangible and intangible property of the party;

(3)  award interest on unpaid installments;

(4)  order and direct the transfer or sale of any property required in order to comply with the court's order;

(5)  require security to insure future payments in compliance with the court's order;

(6)  issue attachment proceedings, directed to the sheriff or other proper officer of the county, directing that the person named as having failed to comply with the court order be brought before the court, at such time as the court may direct. If the court finds, after hearing, that the person willfully failed to comply with the court order, it may deem the person in civil contempt of court and, in its discretion, make an appropriate order, including, but not limited to, commitment of the person to the county jail for a period not to exceed six months;

(7)  award counsel fees and costs;

(8)  attach wages; or

(9)  find the party in contempt.

(f)  Partial distribution.--The court, upon the request of either party, may at any stage of the proceedings enter an order providing for an interim partial distribution or assignment of marital property.

23c3502v

(Nov. 29, 2004, P.L.1357, No.175, eff. 60 days)

 

2004 Amendment.  Act 175 amended subsec. (a) and added subsec. (f). See section 5(8) and (9) of Act 175 in the appendix to this title for special provisions relating to applicability.

23c3503s

§ 3503.  Effect of divorce on property rights generally.

Whenever a decree or judgment is granted which nullifies or absolutely terminates the bonds of matrimony, all property rights which are dependent upon the marital relation, except those which are vested rights, are terminated unless the court expressly provides otherwise in its decree. All duties, rights and claims accruing to either of the parties at any time theretofore in pursuance of the marriage shall cease, and the parties shall severally be at liberty to marry again as if they had never been married.

23c3504s

§ 3504.  Disposition of property after termination of marriage.

Unless provided otherwise by the court, whenever a decree of divorce or annulment is entered by a court of competent jurisdiction, both parties whose marriage is terminated or affected shall have complete freedom of disposition as to their separate real and personal property and may mortgage, sell, grant, convey or otherwise encumber or dispose of their separate property, whether the property was acquired before, during or after coverture, and neither need join in, consent to or acknowledge a deed, mortgage or instrument of the other.

23c3505s

§ 3505.  Disposition of property to defeat obligations.

(a)  Preliminary relief.--Where it appears to the court that a party is about to leave the jurisdiction of the court or is about to remove property of that party from the jurisdiction of the court or is about to dispose of, alienate or encumber property in order to defeat equitable distribution, alimony pendente lite, alimony, child and spousal support or a similar award, an injunction may issue to prevent the removal or disposition and the property may be attached as prescribed by general rules. The court may also issue a writ of ne exeat to preclude the removal.

(b)  Inventory of property.--Both parties shall submit to the court an inventory and appraisement, which shall contain all of the following:

(1)  A list of the property owned or possessed by either or both of them as of:

(i)  the date of separation; and

(ii)  thirty days prior to the date of hearing on equitable distribution.

(2)  A list of the value of the property owned or possessed by either or both of them as of:

(i)  the date of acquisition;

(ii)  the date of separation; and

(iii)  thirty days prior to the date of hearing on equitable distribution.

(3)  A list of the liabilities of either or both of them as of 30 days prior to the date of hearing on equitable distribution, whether or not the liabilities are related to the property set forth in the inventory and appraisement.

(c)  Discovery.--Discovery under this part shall be as provided for all other civil actions under the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure.

(d)  Constructive trust for undisclosed assets.--If a party fails to disclose information required by general rule of the Supreme Court and in consequence thereof an asset or assets with a fair market value of $1,000 or more is omitted from the final distribution of property, the party aggrieved by the nondisclosure may at any time petition the court granting the award to declare the creation of a constructive trust as to all undisclosed assets for the benefit of the parties and their minor or dependent children, if any. The party in whose name the assets are held shall be declared the constructive trustee unless the court designates a different trustee, and the trust may include any terms and conditions the court may determine. The court shall grant the petition upon a finding of a failure to disclose the assets as required by general rule of the Supreme Court.

(e)  Encumbrance or disposition to third parties.--An encumbrance or disposition of marital property to third persons who paid wholly inadequate consideration for the property may be deemed fraudulent and declared void.

23c3505v

(Nov. 29, 2004, P.L.1357, No.175, eff. 60 days)

 

2004 Amendment.  Act 175 amended subsec. (d). Section 5(10) of Act 175 provided that the amendment shall apply to all equitable distribution proceedings irrespective of whether the proceeding was commenced before, on or after the effective date of par. (10).

Suspension by Court Rule.  Section 3505(b) was suspended by Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure No. 1920.91, as amended May 5, 1997, insofar as it applies to the practice and procedure in actions for divorce or annulment of marriage.

23c3506s

§ 3506.  Statement of reasons for distribution.

In an order made under this chapter for the distribution of property, the court shall set forth the percentage of distribution for each marital asset or group of assets and the reason for the distribution ordered.

23c3506v

(Nov. 29, 2004, P.L.1357, No.175, eff. 60 days)

 

2004 Amendment.  Section 5(11) of Act 175 provided that the amendment shall apply to all orders made on or after the effective date of par. (11).

23c3507s

§ 3507.  Division of entireties property between divorced persons.

(a)  General rule.--Whenever married persons holding property as tenants by entireties are divorced, they shall, except as otherwise provided by an order made under this chapter, thereafter hold the property as tenants in common of equal one-half shares in value, and either of them may bring an action against the other to have the property sold and the proceeds divided between them.

(b)  Division of proceeds.--Except as provided in subsection (c), the proceeds of a sale under this section, after the payment of the expenses of sale, shall be equally divided between the parties.

(c)  Liens.--The amount of any lien entered of record jointly against both of the parties, together with any interest due on the lien and docket costs, shall be deducted from the proceeds of sale and the amount of the liens entered of record against either of the parties, together with any interest due on the liens and docket costs, shall be deducted from the share of the party against whom the lien is filed and paid to the person or persons to whom the amount of the lien is due and payable.

(d)  Record of divorce decree.--No decree of divorce shall be effective to change the existing law relating to liens upon property held by tenants by the entireties except a decree of divorce that is valid in this Commonwealth and not until the decree of divorce or a certified copy of the decree is recorded in the office of the recorder of deeds of the county where the property is situate. The decree shall be indexed in the grantor's index against each of the tenants by the entireties.

23c3507v

 

Saved from Suspension.  Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure No. 1910.49, as amended March 30, 1994, provided that section 3507 shall not be deemed suspended or affected by Rules 1910.1 through 1910.31 governing actions for support insofar as section 3507 provides for tenancy in common of property held by the entireties after divorce.

23c3508s

§ 3508.  Conveyance of entireties property to divorced spouse.

Whenever married persons have acquired real estate as tenants by entireties and thereafter are divorced, either former spouse, except as otherwise provided by an order made under this chapter, may convey to the other, without the joinder of the other, the grantor's interest in the real estate so that the grantee holds the real estate in fee simple, freed from all right, title and interest which the grantor had in the real estate as a tenant by the entireties.

23c3701h

 

 

CHAPTER 37

ALIMONY AND SUPPORT

 

Sec.

3701.  Alimony.

3702.  Alimony pendente lite, counsel fees and expenses.

3703.  Enforcement of arrearages.

3704.  Payment of support, alimony and alimony pendente lite.

3705.  Enforcement of foreign decrees.

3706.  Bar to alimony.

3707.  Effect of death of either party.

 

Enactment.  Chapter 37 was added December 19, 1990, P.L.1240, No.206, effective in 90 days.

23c3701s

§ 3701.  Alimony.

(a)  General rule.--Where a divorce decree has been entered, the court may allow alimony, as it deems reasonable, to either party only if it finds that alimony is necessary.

(b)  Factors relevant.--In determining whether alimony is necessary and in determining the nature, amount, duration and manner of payment of alimony, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including:

(1)  The relative earnings and earning capacities of the parties.

(2)  The ages and the physical, mental and emotional conditions of the parties.

(3)  The sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits.

(4)  The expectancies and inheritances of the parties.

(5)  The duration of the marriage.

(6)  The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party.

(7)  The extent to which the earning power, expenses or financial obligations of a party will be affected by reason of serving as the custodian of a minor child.

(8)  The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage.

(9)  The relative education of the parties and the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking alimony to find appropriate employment.

(10)  The relative assets and liabilities of the parties.

(11)  The property brought to the marriage by either party.

(12)  The contribution of a spouse as homemaker.

(13)  The relative needs of the parties.

(14)  The marital misconduct of either of the parties during the marriage. The marital misconduct of either of the parties from the date of final separation shall not be considered by the court in its determinations relative to alimony, except that the court shall consider the abuse of one party by the other party. As used in this paragraph, "abuse" shall have the meaning given to it under section 6102 (relating to definitions).

(15)  The Federal, State and local tax ramifications of the alimony award.

(16)  Whether the party seeking alimony lacks sufficient property, including, but not limited to, property distributed under Chapter 35 (relating to property rights), to provide for the party's reasonable needs.

(17)  Whether the party seeking alimony is incapable of self-support through appropriate employment.

(c)  Duration.--The court in ordering alimony shall determine the duration of the order, which may be for a definite or an indefinite period of time which is reasonable under the circumstances.

(d)  Statement of reasons.--In an order made under this section, the court shall set forth the reason for its denial or award of alimony and the amount thereof.

(e)  Modification and termination.--An order entered pursuant to this section is subject to further order of the court upon changed circumstances of either party of a substantial and continuing nature whereupon the order may be modified, suspended, terminated or reinstituted or a new order made. Any further order shall apply only to payments accruing subsequent to the petition for the requested relief. Remarriage of the party receiving alimony shall terminate the award of alimony.

(f)  Status of agreement to pay alimony.--Whenever the court approves an agreement for the payment of alimony voluntarily entered into between the parties, the agreement shall constitute the order of the court and may be enforced as provided in section 3703 (relating to enforcement of arrearages).

23c3701v

(Dec. 16, 1997, P.L.549, No.58, eff. Jan. 1, 1998; Mar. 24, 1998, P.L.204, No.36, eff. imd.)

 

1998 Amendment.  Act 36 amended subsec. (b)(14).

1997 Amendment.  Act 58 amended subsec. (b).

Cross References.  Section 3701 is referred to in section 3703 of this title.

23c3702s

§ 3702.  Alimony pendente lite, counsel fees and expenses.

In proper cases, upon petition, the court may allow a spouse reasonable alimony pendente lite, spousal support and reasonable counsel fees and expenses. Reasonable counsel fees and expenses may be allowed pendente lite, and the court shall also have authority to direct that adequate health and hospitalization insurance coverage be maintained for the dependent spouse pendente lite.

23c3702v

(Dec. 16, 1997, P.L.549, No.58, eff. Jan. 1, 1998; Mar. 24, 1998, P.L.204, No.36, eff. imd.)

 

Cross References.  Section 3702 is referred to in section 3703 of this title.

23c3703s

§ 3703.  Enforcement of arrearages.

If at any time a party is in arrears in the payment of alimony or alimony pendente lite as provided for in sections 3701 (relating to alimony) and 3702 (relating to alimony pendente lite, counsel fees and expenses), the court may, after hearing, in order to effect payment of the arrearages:

(1)  Enter judgment.

(2)  Authorize the taking and seizure of the goods and chattels and the collection of the rents and profits of the real estate of the party.

(3)  Attach no more than 50% of the wages of the party.

(4)  Award interest on unpaid installments.

(5)  Require security to insure future payments.

(6)  Issue attachment proceedings, directed to the sheriff or other proper officer of the county, directing that the person named as having failed to comply with the court order be brought before the court at such time as the court may direct. If the court finds, after hearing, that the named person willfully failed to comply with the court order, it may declare the person in civil contempt of court and in its discretion make an appropriate order, including, but not limited to, commitment of the person to prison for a period not to exceed six months.

(7)  Award counsel fees and costs.

23c3703v

 

Cross References.  Section 3703 is referred to in section 3701 of this title; sections 8102, 8533.1 of Title 24 (Education); sections 5102, 5953.1 of Title 71 (State Government).

23c3704s

§ 3704.  Payment of support, alimony and alimony pendente lite.

When so ordered by the court, all payments of child and spousal support, alimony or alimony pendente lite shall be made to the domestic relations section of the court which issued the order or the domestic relations section of the court at the residence of the party entitled to receive the award. The domestic relations section shall keep an accurate record of all payments and shall notify the court immediately whenever a person subject to a payment order is 30 days in arrears of payment so that appropriate action may be taken to enforce the order of the court. The domestic relations section shall distribute the payments to the person entitled to them as soon as possible after receipt.

23c3705s

§ 3705.  Enforcement of foreign decrees.

(a)  General rule.--Whenever a person subject to a valid decree of a sister state or territory for the distribution of marital property or for the payment of alimony, temporary alimony or alimony pendente lite, or the property of that person is found within this Commonwealth, the obligee of the decree may petition the court where the obligor or the property of the obligor is found to register, adopt as its own and enforce the decree as a properly issued and authenticated decree of a sister state or territory. Upon registration and adoption, such relief and process for enforcement as is provided or prescribed by law in similar cases originally commenced in this Commonwealth shall be available. A copy of the decree and order shall be forwarded to the court of the state or territory which issued the original decree. The obligor shall have whatever defenses and relief are available to the obligor in the state or territory which issued the original decree and may question the jurisdiction of that court if not otherwise barred. Interest may be awarded on unpaid installments and security may be required to insure future payments as in cases originally commenced in this Commonwealth. Where property of the obligor, but not the person of the obligor, is found within this Commonwealth, there shall be jurisdiction quasi in rem, and, upon registration and adoption of the decree of the sister state or territory, relief and enforcement of the decree shall be available as in other proceedings which are quasi in rem.

(b)  Optional procedure.--The right of a judgment creditor to proceed under 42 Pa.C.S. § 4306 (relating to enforcement of foreign judgments) or otherwise instead of proceeding under this section remains unimpaired.

23c3706s

§ 3706.  Bar to alimony.

No petitioner is entitled to receive an award of alimony where the petitioner, subsequent to the divorce pursuant to which alimony is being sought, has entered into cohabitation with a person of the opposite sex who is not a member of the family of the petitioner within the degrees of consanguinity.

23c3707s

§ 3707.  Effect of death of either party.

Upon the death of the payee party, the right to receive alimony pursuant to this chapter shall cease. Upon the death of the payor party, the obligation to pay alimony shall cease unless otherwise indicated in an agreement between the parties or an order of court.

23c3901h

 

 

CHAPTER 39

MEDIATION

 

Sec.

3901.  Mediation programs.

3902.  Fees and costs.

3903.  Review of programs.

3904.  Existing programs.

 

Enactment.  Chapter 39 was added April 4, 1996, P.L.58, No.20, effective immediately.

23c3901s

§ 3901.  Mediation programs.

(a)  Establishment.--A court may establish a mediation program for actions brought under this part or Chapter 53 (relating to custody).

(b)  Issues subject to mediation.--When a program has been established pursuant to subsection (a), the court may order the parties to attend an orientation session to explain the mediation process. Thereafter, should the parties consent to mediation, the court may order them to mediate such issues as it may specify.

(c)  Local rules.--

(1)  The court shall adopt local rules for the administration of the mediation program to include rules regarding qualifications of mediators, confidentiality and any other matter deemed appropriate by the court.

(2)  The court shall not order an orientation session or mediation in a case where either party or child of either party is or has been a subject of domestic violence or child abuse at any time during the pendency of an action under this part or within 24 months preceding the filing of any action under this part.

(d)  Model guidelines.--The Supreme Court shall develop model guidelines for implementation of this section and shall consult with experts on mediation and domestic violence in this Commonwealth in the development thereof. The effective date of this chapter shall not be delayed by virtue of this subsection.

23c3901v

 

References in Text.  Former Chapter 53 (Custody), referred to in this section, is repealed. The subject is now contained in Chapter 53 (Child Custody).

23c3902s

§ 3902.  Fees and costs.

(a)  Imposition of fee.--A county in which the court has established a mediation program may impose an additional filing fee of up to $20 on divorce and custody complaints to be used to fund the mediation program.

(b)  Assessment of additional costs.--The court may assess additional costs of mediation on either party.

23c3903s

§ 3903.  Review of programs.

The Supreme Court shall monitor mediation programs established by courts of common pleas. The Supreme Court shall establish procedures for the evaluation of the effectiveness of the program.

23c3904s

§ 3904.  Existing programs.

This chapter shall not affect any existing mediation program established in any judicial district pursuant to local rule.

23c4101h

 

 

PART V

SUPPORT, PROPERTY AND CONTRACTS

 

Chapter

  41.  General Provisions

  43.  Support Matters Generally

  45.  Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Orders (Repealed)

  46.  Support of the Indigent

 

Enactment.  Part V was added October 30, 1985, P.L.264, No.66, effective in 90 days.

 

 

CHAPTER 41

GENERAL PROVISIONS

 

Sec.

4101.  Liability for debts contracted before marriage.

4102.  Proceedings in case of debts contracted for necessaries.

4103.  (Reserved).

4104.  Right of married person to separate earnings.

4105.  Loans between married persons.

4106.  Construction of chapter.

 

Enactment.  Chapter 41 was added December 19, 1990, P.L.1240, No.206, effective in 90 days.

23c4101s

§ 4101.  Liability for debts contracted before marriage.

(a)  General rule.--A spouse is not liable for the debts of the other spouse contracted before marriage.

(b)  Liability of property unaffected.--This chapter does not protect the property of a married person from liability for debts contracted by or in the name of the married person by any person authorized to so contract.

23c4102s

§ 4102.  Proceedings in case of debts contracted for necessaries.

In all cases where debts are contracted for necessaries by either spouse for the support and maintenance of the family, it shall be lawful for the creditor in this case to institute suit against the husband and wife for the price of such necessaries and, after obtaining a judgment, have an execution against the spouse contracting the debt alone; and, if no property of that spouse is found, execution may be levied upon and satisfied out of the separate property of the other spouse.

23c4103s

§ 4103.  (Reserved).

23c4104s

§ 4104.  Right of married person to separate earnings.

Except as otherwise provided in this title, the separate earnings of any married person of this Commonwealth, whether these earnings are wages for labor, salary, property, business or otherwise, shall accrue to and enure to the separate benefit and use of that married person independently of the other spouse, and so as not to be subject to any legal claim of the other spouse. However, in any action in which the ownership of such property is in dispute, the person claiming such property shall be compelled, in the first instance, to show title and ownership in the property.

23c4105s

§ 4105.  Loans between married persons.

A married person may loan the other spouse money from the separate estate of the married person and take in security therefor a judgment or mortgage against the property of the other spouse which shall be valid as otherwise provided by law.

23c4106s

§ 4106.  Construction of chapter.

This chapter shall not be construed to affect Part IV (relating to divorce).

23c4301h

 

 

CHAPTER 43

SUPPORT MATTERS GENERALLY

 

Subchapter

   A.  General Provisions

   B.  Support

   C.  Proceedings Generally

   D.  Proceedings Against Entireties Property

   E.  Title IV-D Program and Related Matters

   F.  New Hire Reporting

 

Enactment.  Chapter 43 was added October 30, 1985, P.L.264, No.66, effective in 90 days.

Saved from Suspension.  Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure No. 1910.49, adopted November 7, 1988, provided that Chapter 43 shall not be deemed suspended or affected by Rules 1910.1 through 1910.31 governing actions for support.

Cross References.  Chapter 43 is referred to in sections 5603, 6108 of this title.

 

 

SUBCHAPTER A

GENERAL PROVISIONS

 

Sec.

4301.  Scope of chapter.

4302.  Definitions.

4303.  Information to consumer reporting agency.

4304.  Cooperation of Commonwealth agencies (Repealed).

4304.1. Cooperation of government and nongovernment agencies.

4305.  General administration of support matters.

4306.  Duties of Title IV-D attorney.

4307.  State income tax intercept.

4308.  Lottery winnings intercept.

4308.1. Collection of overdue support from monetary awards.

4309.  Publication of delinquent support obligors.

23c4301s

§ 4301.  Scope of chapter.

(a)  General rule.--Actions or proceedings provided by this chapter are in addition to and not in substitution of actions or proceedings provided by unsuspended statutes where there is desertion or a failure to perform a duty to support.

(b)  Persons in institutions and foster homes.--Matters relating to the support of persons living in public or private institutions or receiving foster home care and who are otherwise entitled to support under this chapter shall be determined by the court under the statutes pertaining to those institutions or foster homes.

23c4302s

§ 4302.  Definitions.

The following words and phrases when used in this chapter shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"Consumer reporting agency."  As defined in section 630(f) of the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (Public Law 91-508, 15 U.S.C. § 1681a(f)).

"Department."  The Department of Public Welfare of the Commonwealth.

"Employer."  Includes an individual, partnership, association, corporation, trust, Federal agency, Commonwealth agency or political subdivision paying or obligated to pay income.

"Genetic tests."  Includes any blood or tissue testing processes used to confirm or exclude parentage.

"Government agency."  Any agency of the Commonwealth, including departments, boards, commissions, authorities, any political subdivisions or agency of such political subdivision or local or municipal authority or other local government unit or any court or related agency.

"Income."  Includes compensation for services, including, but not limited to, wages, salaries, bonuses, fees, compensation in kind, commissions and similar items; income derived from business; gains derived from dealings in property; interest; rents; royalties; dividends; annuities; income from life insurance and endowment contracts; all forms of retirement; pensions; income from discharge of indebtedness; distributive share of partnership gross income; income in respect of a decedent; income from an interest in an estate or trust; military retirement benefits; railroad employment retirement benefits; social security benefits; temporary and permanent disability benefits; workers' compensation; unemployment compensation; other entitlements to money or lump sum awards, without regard to source, including lottery winnings; income tax refunds; insurance compensation or settlements; awards or verdicts; and any form of payment due to and collectible by an individual regardless of source.

"Judgment by operation of law."  A judgment which exists without the need for any ministerial act and which arises out of the existence of facts readily verifiable from the domestic relations section's records. The existence of a valid support order and nonpayment of the order, together, create the judgment.

"Labor organization."  The term shall have the meaning given the term in section 2(5) of the National Labor Relations Act (49 Stat. 449, 29 U.S.C. § 151 et seq.) and shall include an entity used by the organization and an employer to carry out requirements of an agreement between the organization and the employer as set forth in section 8(f)(3) of the National Labor Relations Act.

"Net income."  Gross income minus taxes and any other deductions mandated by the employer as a condition of employment.

"Obligee."  The term shall have the meaning given in section 7101(b) (relating to short title of part and definitions).

"Obligor."  The term shall have the meaning given in section 7101(b) (relating to short title of part and definitions).

"Order of support."  Includes assistance imposed or imposable by law or by any court order or by an agency administering a State Title IV-D program, whether temporary, final or subject to modification and whether incidental to a proceeding for divorce, separate maintenance, action for failure to support a child born out of wedlock or otherwise. The term includes an order for the support and maintenance of a child, including a child who has attained the age of majority, or for the parent with whom the child is living which provides for monetary support, health care, arrearages or reimbursement and which may include related costs and fees, interest and penalties, income withholding, attorneys' fees and other relief.

"Overdue support."  Support which is delinquent under a payment schedule established by the court.

"Past due support."  Support included in an order of support which has not been paid.

"State disbursement unit."  The organizational unit established within the Department of Public Welfare responsible for collecting and disbursing support as provided in section 4374 (relating to State disbursement unit).

"Support."  Care, maintenance and financial assistance.

23c4302v

(Mar. 25, 1988, P.L.296, No.35, eff. imd.; July 2, 1993, P.L.431, No.62, eff. imd.; Apr. 4, 1996, P.L.58, No.20, eff. imd.; Oct. 16, 1996, P.L.706, No.124, eff. 60 days; Dec. 16, 1997, P.L.549, No.58, eff. Jan. 1, 1998; Dec. 15, 1998, P.L.963, No.127, eff. imd.)

 

1998 Amendment.  Act 127 added the defs. of "overdue support" and "past due support." Act 127 of 1998 was suspended by Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure No. 1910.50(3), as amended May 31, 2000, insofar as it is inconsistent with Rule No.1910.20 relating to the availability of remedies for collection of past due and overdue support.

1997 Amendment.  Act 58 amended the defs. of "income" and "order of support" and added the defs. of "department," "obligee," "obligor" and "State disbursement unit." Act 58 of 1997 was suspended by Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure No. 1910.50(3), as amended May 31, 2000, insofar as it is inconsistent with Rule No.1910.20 relating to the availability of remedies for collection of past due and overdue support.

1996 Amendments.  Act 20 added the def. of "consumer reporting agency" and Act 124 amended the def. of "income" and added the defs. of "government agency" and "labor organization."

1993 Amendment.  Act 62 added the def. of "genetic tests."

1988 Amendment.  Act 35 added the def. of "judgment by operation of law."

Cross References.  Section 4302 is referred to in sections 4308.1, 7501 of this title; sections 8102, 8533.1 of Title 24 (Education); sections 5102, 5953.1 of Title 71 (State Government).

23c4303s

§ 4303.  Information to consumer reporting agency.

Information regarding the name and the amount of arrearages owed by an obligor shall be provided periodically to consumer reporting agencies whenever the obligor owes overdue support, subject to the following:

(1)  The information shall be available only after the obligor owing the arrearages has been notified of the proposed action and given a period not to exceed 20 days to contest the accuracy of the information. The notice shall be as provided by local rule of the court of common pleas.

(2)  Such information shall not be made available to:

(i)  a consumer reporting agency which the department determines not to have sufficient capability to systematically and timely make accurate use of such information; or

(ii)  an entity which has not furnished evidence satisfactory to the department that the entity is a consumer reporting agency.

23c4303v

(Apr. 4, 1996, P.L.58, No.20, eff. imd.; Dec. 16, 1997, P.L.549, No.58, eff. Jan. 1, 1998)

 

1997 Amendment.  Act 58 of 1997 was suspended by Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure No. 1910.50(3), as amended May 31, 2000, insofar as it is inconsistent with Rule No.1910.20 relating to the availability of remedies for collection of past due and overdue support.

23c4304s

§ 4304.  Cooperation of Commonwealth agencies (Repealed).

23c4304v

 

1996 Repeal Note.  Section 4304 was repealed October 16, 1996, P.L.706, No.124, effective in 60 days.

23c4304.1s

§ 4304.1.  Cooperation of government and nongovernment agencies.

(a)  Cooperation of government agencies.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law, including the provisions of section 731 of the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L.343, No.176), known as The Fiscal Code, all government agencies shall:

(1)  At the request of the department, provide information prescribed by the department regarding a person's wages, income, telephone numbers, addresses, Social Security numbers and date of birth, employer names, addresses and telephone numbers.

(2)  Require the Social Security number of an individual who has one on any application for a professional or occupational license or certification; a permit; a driver's license, including a commercial driver's license; a recreational license; or a marriage license. Collection of the Social Security number shall be performed in such manner as to protect its confidentiality. If the government agency uses another identifying number on the face of the application, the government agency shall advise the applicant and shall keep the Social Security number on file at the agency.

(3)  Require the Social Security number of any individual subject to a divorce decree, support order, paternity determination or acknowledgment of paternity in all records relating to the matter. Collection of the Social Security number shall be kept confidential.

(4)  Require the Social Security number of a deceased individual in records relating to the death, including the death certificate.

(b)  Cooperation of labor organizations.--Labor organizations shall at the request of the department provide information in a form prescribed by the department regarding wages, income, telephone numbers, addresses, Social Security numbers and date of birth, employer names, addresses and telephone numbers.

(b.1)  Cooperation of financial institutions.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law, all financial institutions doing business in this Commonwealth shall:

(1)  Provide for each calendar quarter such identifying information, asset information and benefit information as the department may specify for any obligor who owes past due support as identified by the department by name and Social Security number or other taxpayer identification number.

(2)  Upon receipt of a notice of lien or seizure order from the domestic relations section or the department, encumber or surrender, as the case may be, identified assets of an obligor who is subject to a child support lien. The Supreme Court shall by general rule prescribe the form of the order. The financial institution shall remit to the domestic relations section or to the department the assets available in the account on the date of the receipt of the notice of lien or seizure order by the financial institution. Remittance by the financial institution shall be made within a reasonable period of time.

(b.2)  Agreements between the department and financial institutions.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the department and any financial institution doing business in this Commonwealth are authorized to enter into agreements for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of subsection (b.1). The agreement may specify payment of a fee by the department to the financial institution to conduct the activities in accordance with subsection (b.1)(1) which shall not exceed actual and reasonable costs incurred by the financial institution.

(c)  Penalty.--Following notice and hearing, the department may impose a civil penalty of up to $1,000 per violation upon any government agency, labor organization or financial institution which willfully fails to comply with a request by the department for information pursuant to this section.

(d)  Confidentiality.--Any information provided or collected pursuant to this section shall be confidential and may be used by the department, the court or the domestic relations section solely for purposes of child and spousal support enforcement and, to the extent allowed by Federal law, for administration of public assistance programs. Any person, government agency, employer or agent of the department who divulges such information in a manner not provided in this section commits a misdemeanor of the third degree and, upon conviction, shall be sentenced to pay a fine of up to $1,000 per violation and costs and shall be subject to a term of imprisonment of not more than one year, or both.

(d.1)  Notification.--No financial institution shall be required to notify an obligor of a request for information by the department or the court under this section.

(e)  Immunity.--A person, government agency, labor organization or financial institution providing information, encumbering or surrendering property pursuant to this section shall not be subject to civil or criminal liability to any person or entity. The department, a court, a domestic relations section or an authorized employee of such an entity requesting information under this section or ordering the seizure, encumbrance or surrender of an asset held by a financial institution shall not be subject to any civil or criminal liability. A financial institution shall not be subject to any civil or criminal liability for encumbering or surrendering assets of an obligor as required by this section. The immunity provided by this subsection shall not apply to any person or agent of a government agency, labor organization or financial institution who knowingly supplies false information under this section.

(f)  Data collection.--The department shall provide for the frequency and format, which may include automated data exchanges, for the collection of the information required in this section.

(g)  Definitions.--As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:

"Account."  A demand deposit account, checking or negotiable withdrawal order account, savings account, time deposit account or money market mutual fund account. The term does not include trust accounts, custodian accounts or accounts under 20 Pa.C.S. Ch. 53 (relating to the Pennsylvania Uniform Transfers to Minors Act).

"Asset information."  Account balances, deposits, withdrawals, interest, investments, trusts, dividends, certificates of deposits and other asset information.

"Benefit information."  Information regarding financial or health care benefits to which an individual may be entitled from government, an employer, an insurer or other source.

"Financial institution."  A depository institution, as defined by section 3(c) of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (64 Stat. 873, 12 U.S.C. § 1813(c)); an institution-affiliated party, as defined by section 3(u) of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act; a Federal credit union or State credit union, as defined in section 101 of the Federal Credit Union Act (48 Stat. 1216, 12 U.S.C. § 1752), including an institution-affiliated party of such a credit union, as defined in section 206(r) of the Federal Credit Union Act; and a benefit association, insurer, safe deposit company, money market mutual fund or similar entity authorized to do business in this Commonwealth.

"Identifying information."  Name, record address, Social Security number or other taxpayer identification number.

"Insurer."  A foreign or domestic insurance company, association or exchange holding a certificate of authority under the act of May 17, 1921 (P.L.682, No.284), known as The Insurance Company Law of 1921; a risk-assuming preferred provider organization operating under section 630 of The Insurance Company Law of 1921; a health maintenance organization holding a certificate of authority under the act of December 29, 1972 (P.L.1701, No.364), known as the Health Maintenance Organization Act; a fraternal benefit society holding a certificate of authority under the act of December 14, 1992 (P.L.835, No.134), known as the Fraternal Benefit Societies Code; a hospital plan corporation holding a certificate of authority under 40 Pa.C.S. Ch. 61 (relating to hospital plan corporations); a professional health service plan corporation holding a certificate of authority under 40 Pa.C.S. Ch. 63 (relating to professional health services plan corporations); or a similar entity authorized to do insurance business in this Commonwealth.

23c4304.1v

(Oct. 16, 1996, P.L.706, No.124, eff. 60 days; Dec. 16, 1997, P.L.549, No.58, eff. Jan. 1, 1998; Dec. 15, 1998, P.L.963, No.127, eff. imd.)

 

1998 Amendment.  Act 127 amended subsec. (a)(2) and (3). Act 127 of 1998 was suspended by Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure No. 1910.50(3), as amended May 31, 2000, insofar as it is inconsistent with Rule No.1910.20 relating to the availability of remedies for collection of past due and overdue support.

1997 Amendment.  Act 58 of 1997 was suspended by Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure No. 1910.50(3), as amended May 31, 2000, insofar as it is inconsistent with Rule No.1910.20 relating to the availability of remedies for collection of past due and overdue support.

References in Text.  The act of December 14, 1992 (P.L.835, No.134), known as the Fraternal Benefit Societies Code, referred to in the def. of "insurer," was repealed by the act of July 10, 2002 (P.L.749, No.110). The subject matter is now contained in Article XXIV of The Insurance Company Law of 1921.

23c4305s

§ 4305.  General administration of support matters.

(a)  Powers and duties.--Subject to any inconsistent general rules and to the supervision and direction of the court, the domestic relations section shall have the power and duty to:

(1)  Process all complaints received under Parts VIII (relating to uniform interstate family support) and VIII-A (relating to intrastate family support).

(2)  Make such investigation as may be necessary.

(3)  Take charge of any obligor before or after hearing, as may be directed by the court.

(4)  Collect and pay over to the persons entitled thereto moneys received pursuant to support proceedings.

(5)  Keep a full and complete record of all support proceedings, including orders of the court.

(6)  Keep account of all payments made under order of court and promptly bring to the attention of the court and the district attorney any default in compliance with any order of court.

(6.1)  In the case of a dispute as to the amount of an order of support proposed by the domestic relations section, issue a temporary order of support pending judicial determination. A temporary order of support under this paragraph may not be for less than the full amount of the proposed order of support being disputed.

(7)  Make effective the orders of support entered.

(8)  Furnish the court with such information and assistance as it may require and generally perform such services as it may direct relating to support proceedings.

(9)  Inform both parties to a support action that guidelines as specified in section 4322 (relating to support guidelines) are available in the domestic relations section.

(10)  Implement safeguards applicable to all confidential information received by the domestic relations section in order to protect the privacy rights of the parties, including:

(i)  safeguards against unauthorized use or disclosure of information relating to proceedings or actions to establish paternity or to establish, modify or enforce support or to make or enforce a child custody determination;

(ii)  prohibitions against the release of information on the whereabouts of one party or the child to another party against whom a protective order with respect to the former party or the child has been entered; and

(iii)  prohibitions against the release of information on the whereabouts of one party or the child to another person if the domestic relations section has reason to believe that the release of the information may result in physical or emotional harm to the party or the child.

(11)  Initiate judicial proceedings to void a fraudulent transfer or obtain a settlement from the transferee in the best interests of the child support obligee.

(b)  Additional powers.--Subject to the supervision and direction of the court but without the need for prior judicial order, the domestic relations section shall have the power to expedite the establishment and enforcement of support to:

(1)  Order genetic testing for the purpose of paternity establishment pursuant to section 4343 (relating to paternity).

(2)  Issue subpoenas against any entity within this Commonwealth, including for-profit, not-for-profit and governmental employers, to require production of information regarding the employment, compensation and benefits of any individual employed by the entity as an employee or contractor.

(3)  Access records of all State and local government agencies, including the following:

(i)  vital statistic records, including records of marriage, birth and divorce;

(ii)  State and local tax and revenue records, including information on residence address, employer, income and assets;

(iii)  records of real and titled personal property;

(iv)  records of occupational and professional licenses;

(v)  records of the ownership and control of corporations, partnerships and other business entities;

(vi)  employment security records;

(vii)  records of agencies administering public assistance programs;

(viii)  motor vehicle registration and operator licensing records;

(ix)  probation and parole records; and

(x)  corrections records.

(4)  Issue subpoenas for the records of public utilities and cable television companies with respect to individuals who are owed support or against whom or with respect to whom a support obligation is sought, consisting of the names and addresses of the individuals or of their employers.

(5)  Issue subpoenas for the records held by financial institutions with respect to individuals who are owed support or against whom or with respect to whom a support obligation is sought.

(6)  Issue subpoenas for financial or other information needed to establish, modify or enforce a support order.

(7)  Issue orders directing an obligor or other payor to change the payee of a support order.

(8)  Order income withholding pursuant to section 4348 (relating to attachment of income).

(9)  Increase the amount of monthly support payments for the payment of arrearages as may be provided by general rule or previous court order.

(10)  Issue orders in cases where there is a support arrearage to secure assets to satisfy current support obligation and the arrearage by:

(i)  Intercepting or seizing periodic or lump sum payments from a government agency, including unemployment compensation, workers' compensation and other benefits.

(ii)  Intercepting or seizing judgments or settlements.

(iii)  Attaching and seizing assets of the obligor held in financial institutions.

(iv)  Attaching public and private retirement funds.

(v)  Imposing liens on property.

(vi)  Directing the sheriff to levy and sell other real or personal property.

(11)  Transmit to another state a request for assistance in a case involving the enforcement of a support order and sufficient information to enable the state to which the request is transmitted to compare the information to the information in the data bases of the state. The transmittal shall serve as a certification of arrears and a certification that the state has complied with all procedural due process requirements applicable to the case.

(12)  Respond to a request for assistance received from another state. The response shall confirm the receipt of the request, the action taken and the amount of support collected and specify any additional information or action required of the requesting tribunal to obtain enforcement of the child support obligation.

(c)  Civil penalty.--In addition to initiating contempt proceedings, the domestic relations section may assess a civil administrative penalty of up to $1,000 per violation upon any person or entity which fails to comply with a subpoena or request for information under subsection (b)(2).

(d)  Due process and judicial review procedures.--Subject to general rules which may be promulgated by the Supreme Court, each court shall establish due process and judicial review procedures for domestic relations sections exercising powers under this section.

(e)  Transmission of information.--All information transmitted to this Commonwealth from another state for purposes of establishing or enforcing an order of support under this chapter may be transmitted electronically or by other methods.

23c4305v

(Mar. 25, 1988, P.L.296, No.35, eff. imd.; Dec. 16, 1997, P.L.549, No.58, eff. Jan. 1, 1998)

 

1997 Amendment.  Act 58 of 1997 was suspended by Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure No. 1910.50(3), as amended May 31, 2000, insofar as it is inconsistent with Rule No.1910.20 relating to the availability of remedies for collection of past due and overdue support.

23c4306s

§ 4306.  Duties of Title IV-D attorney.

(a)  General rule.--The county Title IV-D attorney shall at all times aid in the enforcement of the duty of child support and child and spousal support and shall cooperate with the domestic relations section in the presentation of complaints or in any proceeding designed to obtain compliance with any order of the court.

(b)  Representation of complainant.--The district attorney, upon the request of the court or a Commonwealth or local public welfare official, shall represent any complainant in any proceeding under this subchapter.

(b.1)  Representation of Commonwealth.--In matters relating to the establishment and enforcement of child support and child and spousal support, the Title IV-D interests of the Commonwealth shall be represented, where appropriate, by the county Title IV-D attorney in a proceeding for child support and child and spousal support.

(c)  Joinder of Department of Public Welfare.--Whenever the record in any support action or proceeding indicates that the persons for whom support is sought have received public assistance from the Department of Public Welfare at any time since the initiation of the matter, the department may become a party to the action or proceeding by filing an entry of appearance. This entry of appearance may be entered without leave of court at any time and at any stage of the action or proceeding.

23c4306v

(July 2, 1993, P.L.431, No.62, eff. imd.; Dec. 16, 1997, P.L.549, No.58, eff. Jan. 1, 1998)

 

1997 Amendment.  Act 58 amended the section heading and subsec. (a) and added subsec. (b.1). Act 58 of 1997 was suspended by Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure No. 1910.50(3), as amended May 31, 2000, insofar as it is inconsistent with Rule No.1910.20 relating to the availability of remedies for collection of past due and overdue support.

1993 Amendment.  Section 7 of Act 62 provided that subsec. (c) shall apply to actions pending on the effective date of Act 62 under section 8(3) of Act 62.

23c4307s

§ 4307.  State income tax intercept.

The department shall have the authority to implement a State income tax refund intercept program pursuant to section 466(a)(3) of the Social Security Act (Public Law 74-271, 42 U.S.C. § 666(a)(3)) when, in the judgment of the department, it is cost effective to do so.

23c4307v

(Dec. 16, 1997, P.L.549, No.58, eff. Jan. 1, 1998)

 

1997 Amendment.  Act 58 of 1997 was suspended by Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure No. 1910.50(3), as amended May 31, 2000, insofar as it is inconsistent with Rule No.1910.20 relating to the availability of remedies for collection of past due and overdue support.

23c4308s

§ 4308.  Lottery winnings intercept.

(a)  Duty of Department of Revenue.--In the case of any person winning more than $2,500 in the Pennsylvania State Lottery, the Department of Revenue shall request the department to make all reasonable efforts to determine if the winner is a delinquent support obligor prior to making any lottery winnings payment. If the winner is so found, the amount of any arrearages shall be deducted from the amount of lottery winnings and paid to the obligee in the manner provided in this title for the administration of support payments.

(b)  Duties of department.--The department shall:

(1)  Cause a search to be made periodically of the following:

(i)  Its records relative to the Title IV-D Program.

(ii)  Any information received from county domestic relations offices relative to arrearages of court-ordered child support.

(iii)  Any information received from states with reciprocal enforcement of child support relative to arrearages of court-ordered child support.

(2)  Furnish the Department of Revenue with the following information:

(i)  The department identifier.

(ii)  The obligor's full name and Social Security number.

(iii)  The amount of the arrearage and the identifier of the court order which underlies it.

(3)  Request the Department of Revenue to withhold from a lottery prizewinner the amount of any arrearage discovered pursuant to the provisions of paragraph (1).

(4)  Request the Department of Revenue to pay over, whether in a lump sum or by installment, to the department that part of the prize which satisfies this arrearage and:

(i)  Deduct from the amount received from the Department of Revenue any amount assigned to the department.

(ii)  Pay over to the domestic relations section for distribution to the obligee of the child support court order the amount of prizewinnings which satisfies the arrearage owed to the obligee. This payment shall be made within 30 days of the date when the winnings are withheld.

(5)  May, if prizewinnings are insufficient to satisfy the arrearages owed under the child support order, proceed as follows:

(i)  It may collect as provided by law.

(ii)  It may reinitiate the procedures set forth in this section if the obligor wins a subsequent lottery prize.

(6)  Determine and set a fee which reflects the actual costs it and the Department of Revenue incur to administer this section, submit this calculation to the Department of Revenue for its approval, request the Department of Revenue to deduct the calculated amount from the amount to be paid to the prizewinner after the prizewinner's child support obligation has been fully satisfied and request that the deducted amount be divided between both departments based on the administrative expenses incurred by each.

(7)  Within 30 days of the date the prize was won:

(i)  Award the prizewinner the lottery prize winnings in whole or in part.

(ii)  If applicable, notify the prizewinner that the prize or a portion thereof was used to satisfy arrearages owed for court-ordered child support.

(c)  Notice.--The domestic relations section shall send a one-time notice to all obligors of existing orders informing them that arrearages may be intercepted as provided by this section.

(d)  Right to review.--A lottery prizewinner whose prize is used to satisfy an obligation under this section may appeal to the department in accordance with 2 Pa.C.S. (relating to administrative law and procedure). The appeal shall be filed within 30 days after the prizewinner is notified by the Department of Revenue that the prize has been reduced or totally withheld to satisfy the prizewinner's outstanding arrearages for child support and related obligations.

(e)  Rules and regulations.--The Department of Revenue and the department shall, in the manner provided by law, jointly promulgate the rules and regulations necessary to carry out this section.

23c4308v

(July 9, 1992, P.L.400, No.87, eff. 60 days; Dec. 16, 1997, P.L.549, No.58, eff. Jan. 1, 1998)

 

1997 Amendment.  Act 58 amended subsecs. (a), (b) heading and intro. par., (2)(i) and (4) intro. par. and (i), (d) and (e). Act 58 of 1997 was suspended by Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure No. 1910.50(3), as amended May 31, 2000, insofar as it is inconsistent with Rule No.1910.20 relating to the availability of remedies for collection of past due and overdue support.

1992 Amendment.  Act 87 added section 4308.

23c4308.1s

§ 4308.1.  Collection of overdue support from monetary awards.

(a)  General rule.--Overdue support shall be a lien by operation of law against the net proceeds of any monetary award, as defined in subsection (i), owed to an obligor, and distribution of any such award shall be stayed in an amount equal to the child support lien provided for under this section pending payment of the lien. Except as provided in subsection (c) or (f), nothing in this section shall provide a basis for a paying agent or an insurer to delay payment of a settlement, verdict or judgment.

(b)  General procedure.--Except as provided in subsection (f), before the prevailing party or beneficiary can receive the proceeds of a monetary award, the prevailing party or beneficiary shall provide his attorney with a statement made subject to 18 Pa.C.S. § 4904 (relating to unsworn falsification to authorities) that includes the prevailing party's or beneficiary's full name, mailing address, date of birth and Social Security number. The prevailing party or beneficiary shall also provide his attorney with written documentation of arrears from the Pennsylvania child support enforcement system website or, if no arrears exist, written documentation from the website indicating no arrears. The attorney shall obtain a copy of the prevailing party or beneficiary's statement and a lien report from the website at the time of the delivery of the release; the lien report shall be dated within 20 days of the date of the delivery of the release. In the event that there are arrears, the attorney shall make payment of any lien to the department's State disbursement unit from the net proceeds of any monetary award.

(c)  Pro se actions.--If the prevailing party or beneficiary is not represented by an attorney, he shall provide the statement and written documentation of arrears or no arrears provided by subsection (b) or (d) to the insurer or other paying agent responsible for distribution of the monetary award who shall make payment of any lien or disputed lien amount, as described in subsection (h), to the department's State disbursement unit from the net proceeds of any monetary award.

(d)  Use of private judgment search companies.--In lieu of receiving the statement and written documentation of arrears or no arrears provided in subsections (b), (c) and (f), an attorney or insurer may use the services of a private judgment search company approved by the department, or an insurer may use the services of the child support enforcement lien program operated through a central reporting agency approved by the department. An attorney or insurer may deduct the fee for such a judgment search from any payment to the prevailing party or beneficiary.

(e)  Immunity.--An attorney, insurer or other paying agent that makes distribution in accordance with a statement and the written documentation required under subsection (b) or the report of an approved private judgment search company under subsection (d), or an insurer which furnishes information and transmits funds under the child support enforcement lien program operated through a central reporting agency approved by the department, shall be immune from any civil, criminal or administrative penalties for making an erroneous distribution. Nothing in this section shall give rise to a claim or cause of action against an attorney or an insurer by any person who asserts he is the intended obligee of the outstanding lien for child support.

(f)  Workers' compensation awards.--With respect to any monetary award arising under the act of June 2, 1915 (P.L.736, No.338), known as the Workers' Compensation Act, or the act of June 21, 1939 (P.L.566, No.284), known as The Pennsylvania Occupational Disease Act, no order providing for a payment shall be entered by the workers' compensation judge unless the prevailing party or beneficiary, who is a claimant under either or both of the acts, shall provide the judge with a statement made subject to 18 Pa.C.S. § 4904 that includes the full name, mailing address, date of birth and Social Security number for the prevailing party or beneficiary who is a claimant under either or both acts. The prevailing party or beneficiary, who is a claimant under either or both of the acts shall also provide the judge with either written documentation of arrears from the Pennsylvania child support enforcement system website or, if no arrears exist, written documentation from the website indicating no arrears. The judge shall order payment of the lien for overdue support to the department's State disbursement unit from the net proceeds due the prevailing party or beneficiary who is a claimant under either or both acts.

(g)  Exception.--This section shall not apply to any monetary award due to a prevailing party or beneficiary under 12 years of age or, in the case of an award under the Workers' Compensation Act or The Pennsylvania Occupational Disease Act, a claimant under 12 years of age.

(h)  Escrow.--In the event that there is a dispute as to the amount of arrears owed by the prevailing party, beneficiary or claimant based on a mistake of fact, the amount in dispute shall be placed in escrow in the department's State disbursement unit by the prevailing party's or beneficiary's attorney, and the escrowed funds shall not be distributed until the dispute is resolved. In such event, the distribution of the remaining net proceeds of the monetary award shall not be stayed. A mistake of fact, as used in this subsection, shall be limited to errors in the amount of arrearage or mistaken identity. Upon resolution of the dispute, the amount of arrears shall be paid to the department's State disbursement unit.

(i)  Definitions.--As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:

"Monetary award."  Any portion of a settlement paid as a lump sum negotiated in lieu of, or subsequent to the filing of a lawsuit for, or any civil judgment or civil arbitration award that is paid as a third party claim for bodily injury or death under a property and casualty insurance policy, or paid as a workers' compensation or occupational disease act award under a workers' compensation policy. The term includes self-insurers and also applies to property and casualty and workers' compensation or occupational disease act policies which are issued by an insurer licensed or authorized to do business in this Commonwealth. The term does not include a lump sum payable through a structured settlement annuity. The term shall apply only to those settlements, judgments, civil arbitrations, Workers' Compensation Act or The Pennsylvania Occupational Disease Act awards which are asserted and resolved in this Commonwealth.

"Net proceeds."  Moneys in excess of $5,000 payable to a prevailing party or beneficiary, or in the case of an award under the act of June 2, 1915 (P.L.736, No.338), known as the Workers' Compensation Act, or the act of June 21, 1939 (P.L.566, No.284), known as The Pennsylvania Occupational Disease Act, the claimant after payment of attorney fees, witness fees, court costs, reasonable litigation expenses, documented unpaid expenses incurred for medical treatment causally related to the claim, any workers' compensation or occupational disease indemnity or medical payment and payments to the medical assistance program under sections 1409 and 1412 of the act of June 13, 1967 (P.L.31, No.21), known as the Public Welfare Code.

"Obligee."  The term shall have the meaning provided under section 7101(b) (relating to short title of part and definitions).

"Obligor."  The term shall have the meaning provided under section 7101(b) (relating to short title of part and definitions).

"Overdue support."  The term shall have the meaning provided under section 4302 (relating to definitions).

23c4308.1v

(July 7, 2006, P.L.1055, No.109, eff. 60 days)

 

2006 Amendment.  Act 109 added section 4308.1.

23c4309s

§ 4309.  Publication of delinquent support obligors.

(a)  General rule.--Any county, through its domestic relations section, may publish the names of delinquent support obligors who are in arrears 30 days or more in newspapers of general or special circulation in the county.

(b)  Immunity.--The county, its officials and newspapers shall be immune from any and all criminal and civil liability as a result of the publication of names and identities under subsection (a), unless the publication is a result of intentional misconduct by the county, its officials or newspapers.

23c4309v

(July 2, 1993, P.L.431, No.62, eff. 60 days)

 

1993 Amendment.  Act 62 added section 4309.

23c4321h

 

 

SUBCHAPTER B

SUPPORT

 

Sec.

4321.  Liability for support.

4322.  Support guideline.

4323.  Support of emancipated child.

4324.  Inclusion of spousal medical support.

4325.  Payment of order of support.

4326.  Mandatory inclusion of child medical support.

4327.  Postsecondary educational costs.

23c4321s

§ 4321.  Liability for support.

Subject to the provisions of this chapter:

(1)  Married persons are liable for the support of each other according to their respective abilities to provide support as provided by law.

(2)  Parents are liable for the support of their children who are unemancipated and 18 years of age or younger.

(3)  Parents may be liable for the support of their children who are 18 years of age or older.

23c4322s

§ 4322.  Support guideline.

(a)  Statewide guideline.--Child and spousal support shall be awarded pursuant to a Statewide guideline as established by general rule by the Supreme Court, so that persons similarly situated shall be treated similarly. The guideline shall be based upon the reasonable needs of the child or spouse seeking support and the ability of the obligor to provide support. In determining the reasonable needs of the child or spouse seeking support and the ability of the obligor to provide support, the guideline shall place primary emphasis on the net incomes and earning capacities of the parties, with allowable deviations for unusual needs, extraordinary expenses and other factors, such as the parties' assets, as warrant special attention. The guideline so developed shall be reviewed at least once every four years.

(b)  Rebuttable presumption.--There shall be a rebuttable presumption, in any judicial or expedited process, that the amount of the award which would result from the application of such guideline is the correct amount of support to be awarded. A written finding or specific finding on the record that the application of the guideline would be unjust or inappropriate in a particular case shall be sufficient to rebut the presumption in that case, provided that the finding is based upon criteria established by the Supreme Court by general rule within one year of the effective date of this act.

23c4322v

(Dec. 20, 1989, P.L.654, No.81, eff. imd.)

 

Cross References.  Section 4322 is referred to in section 4305 of this title.

23c4323s

§ 4323.  Support of emancipated child.

(a)  Emancipated child.--A court shall not order either or both parents to pay for the support of a child if the child is emancipated.

(b)  Marital status of parents immaterial.--In making an order for the support of a child, no distinction shall be made because of the marital status of the parents.

23c4324s

§ 4324.  Inclusion of spousal medical support.

In addition to periodic support payments, the court may require that an obligor pay a designated percentage of a spouse's reasonable and necessary health care expenses. If health care coverage is available through an obligor or obligee at no cost as a benefit of employment or at a reasonable cost, the court shall order an obligor or obligee to provide or extend health care coverage to a spouse. Upon failure of the obligor to make this payment or reimburse the spouse and after compliance with procedural due process requirement, the court shall treat the amount as arrearages.

23c4324v

(Dec. 4, 1992, P.L.757, No.114, eff. 90 days)

 

1992 Amendment.  Section 4(1) of Act 114 provided that the amendment of section 4324 shall apply to all support orders entered, reviewed or modified on or after the effective date of Act 114.

Cross References.  Section 4324 is referred to in section 6108 of this title.

23c4325s

§ 4325.  Payment of order of support.

Unless procedures established by the department for the State disbursement unit provide otherwise, an order of support shall direct payment to be made payable to or payment to be made to the domestic relations section for transmission to the obligee or for transmission directly to a public body or public or private agency whenever the care, maintenance and assistance of the obligee is provided for by the public body or public or private agency.

23c4325v

(Dec. 16, 1997, P.L.549, No.58, eff. Jan. 1, 1998)

 

1997 Amendment.  Act 58 of 1997 was suspended by Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure No. 1910.50(3), as amended May 31, 2000, insofar as it is inconsistent with Rule No.1910.20 relating to the availability of remedies for collection of past due and overdue support.

23c4326s

§ 4326.  Mandatory inclusion of child medical support.

(a)  General rule.--In every proceeding to establish or modify an order which requires the payment of child support, the court shall ascertain the ability of each parent to provide medical support for the children of the parties, and the order shall include a requirement for medical support to be provided by either or both parents, provided that such medical support is accessible to the children.

(b)  Noncustodial parent requirement.--If medical support is available at a reasonable cost to a noncustodial parent, the court shall require that the noncustodial parent provide such medical support to the children of the parties. In cases where there are two noncustodial parents having such medical support available, the court shall require one or both parents to provide medical support.

(c)  Custodial parent requirement.--If medical support is available at a reasonable cost to a custodial parent, the court shall require that the custodial parent provide such medical support to the children of the parties, unless adequate medical support has already been provided through the noncustodial parent. In cases where the parents have shared custody of the child and medical support is available to both, the court shall require one or both parents to provide medical support, taking into account the financial ability of the parties and the extent of medical support available to each parent.

(d)  Additional requirement.--If the court finds that medical support is not available to either parent at a reasonable cost, the court shall order either parent or both parents to obtain medical support for the parties' children which is available at reasonable cost.

(d.1)  Medical support notice.--The department shall develop a medical support notice for use by the department or domestic relations section in accordance with procedures established by the department. The medical support notice shall comply with national standards established by the Federal Government for medical support notices. The department or domestic relations section shall send the medical support notice to the employer within two business days after the date of entry of an employee who is a new hire into the Commonwealth directory of new hires under section 4392 (relating to employer reporting).

(e)  Uninsured expenses.--The court shall determine the amount of any deductible and copayments which each parent shall pay. In addition, the court may require that either parent or both parents pay a designated percentage of the reasonable and necessary uncovered health care expenses of the parties' children, including birth-related expenses incurred prior to the filing of the complaint. Upon request of the domestic relations section, the department shall provide to the domestic relations section all birth-related expenses which the department has incurred in cases it has referred to the domestic relations section for child support services.

(f)  Proof of insurance.--Within 30 days after the entry of an order requiring a parent to provide health care coverage for a child or after any change in health care coverage due to a change in the parent's employment, the obligated parent shall submit to the other parent, or person having custody of the child, written proof that health care coverage has been obtained or that application for coverage has been made. Proof of coverage shall consist of at a minimum:

(1)  The name of the health care coverage provider.

(2)  Any applicable identification numbers.

(3)  Any cards evidencing coverage.

(4)  The address to which claims should be made.

(5)  A description of any restrictions on usage, such as prior approval for hospital admissions, and the manner of obtaining approval.

(6)  A copy of the benefit booklet or coverage contract.

(7)  A description of all deductibles and copayments.

(8)  Five copies of any claim forms.

(g)  Obligations of insurance companies.--Every insurer doing business within this Commonwealth shall be obligated as follows:

(1)  to permit the custodial parent or the provider, with the custodial parent's approval, to submit claims for covered services without the approval of the noncustodial parent and to make payment on such claims directly to such custodial parent, the provider or, in the case of Medical Assistance patients, to the department;

(2)  to provide such information to the custodial parent as may be necessary to obtain benefits, including copies of benefit booklets, insurance contracts and claims information;

(3)  if coverage is made available for dependents of the insured, to make such coverage available to the insured's children without regard to enrollment season restrictions, whether the child was born out of wedlock, whether the child is claimed as a dependent on the parent's Federal income tax return, whether the child resides in the insurer's service area, the amount of support contributed by a parent, the amount of time the child spends in the home or the custodial arrangements for the child;

(4)  to permit the enrollment of children under court order upon application of the custodial parent, domestic relations section or the department within 30 days of receipt by the insurer of the order;

(4.1)  not to disenroll or eliminate coverage of any child unless the insurer is provided satisfactory written evidence that a court order requiring coverage is no longer in effect or that the child is or will be enrolled in comparable health coverage through another insurer which will take effect no later than the effective date of such disenrollment;

(4.2)  to receive, process and pay claims (whether or not on behalf of a child), including electronically submitted claims, submitted by the department within the time permitted by law without imposing any patient signature requirement or other requirement different from those imposed upon providers, agents or assignees of any insured individual;

(5)  to provide the custodial parent who has complied with subsection (j) with the same notification of termination or modification of any health care coverage due to nonpayment of premiums or other reason as is provided to other insureds under the policy; and

(6)  except as provided in paragraph (4.2), to not take into account the fact that any individual, whether or not a child, is eligible for or is being provided medical assistance when enrolling that individual or when making any payments for benefits to the individual or on the individual's behalf.

(h)  Obligations of noninsurers.--To the maximum extent permitted by Federal law, the obligations of subsection (g) shall apply to noninsurers providing health care coverage within this Commonwealth, including health maintenance organizations, self-insured employee health benefit plans and any other entity offering a service benefit plan.

(h.1)  Obligations of employers.--Every employer doing business within this Commonwealth shall be obligated as follows:

(1)  in any case in which a parent is required by a court order to provide health coverage for a child and the parent is eligible for family health coverage, the employer shall permit the insured parent to enroll any child who is otherwise eligible without regard to any enrollment season restrictions;

(2)  if the insured parent is enrolled but fails to make application to obtain coverage for such child, to enroll the child under the family coverage upon application by the child's other parent, the domestic relations section or the department;

(3)  not to disenroll or eliminate coverage of any such child unless the employer is provided satisfactory written evidence that the court or administrative order is no longer in effect, the child is or will be enrolled in comparable health coverage which will take effect not later than the effective date of such disenrollment or the employer has eliminated family health coverage for all of its employees;

(4)  to transfer health coverage for any child to the health coverage of the employer upon receipt of a medical support notice under subsection (d.1) issued by the department or a domestic relations section within 20 business days after the date of the notice; and

(5)  to notify the domestic relations section whenever the insured parent's employment is terminated.

(i)  Obligations of custodial parent.--The custodial parent shall comply with the insurer's existing claim procedures and present to the insurer one of the following documents:

(1)  a copy of a court order as defined in subsection (l); or

(2)  a release signed by the insured permitting the insurer to communicate directly with the custodial parent.

(j)  Enforcement of order.--The employee's share, if any, of premiums for health coverage shall be deducted by the employer and paid to the insurer or other entity providing health care coverage. If an obligated parent fails to comply with the order to provide health care coverage for a child, fails to pay medical expenses for a child or receives payment from a third party for the cost of medical services provided to such child and fails to reimburse the custodial parent or provider of services, the court shall:

(1)  If, after a hearing, the failure or refusal is determined to have been willful, impose the penalties of section 4345(a) (relating to contempt for noncompliance with support order).

(2)  Enter an order for a sum certain against the obligated parent for the cost of medical care for the child and for any premiums paid or provided for the child during any period in which the obligated parent failed or refused to provide coverage. Failure to comply with an order under this paragraph shall be subject to section 4348 (relating to attachment of income).

(3)  Upon failure of the obligated parent to make this payment or reimburse the custodial parent and after compliance with due process requirements, treat the amount as arrearages.

(k)  Enforcement against insurers.--Any insurer or other entity which violates the obligations imposed upon it under subsection (g) or (h) shall be civilly liable for damages and may be adjudicated in contempt and fined by the court.

(l)  Definitions.--As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:

"Birth-related expenses."  Costs of reasonable and necessary health care for the mother or child or both incurred before, during or after the birth of a child born in or out of wedlock which are the result of the pregnancy or birth and which benefit either the mother or child. Charges not related to the pregnancy or birth shall be excluded.

"Child."  A child to whom a duty of child support is owed.

"Health care coverage."  Coverage for medical, dental, orthodontic, optical, psychological, psychiatric or other health care services for a child. For the purposes of this section, medical assistance under Subarticle (f) of Article IV of the act of June 13, 1967 (P.L.31, No.21), known as the Public Welfare Code, shall not be considered health care coverage.

"Insurer."  A foreign or domestic insurance company, association or exchange holding a certificate of authority under the act of May 17, 1921 (P.L.682, No.284), known as The Insurance Company Law of 1921; a risk-assuming preferred provider organization operating under section 630 of The Insurance Company Law of 1921; a health maintenance organization holding a certificate of authority under the act of December 29, 1972 (P.L.1701, No.364), known as the Health Maintenance Organization Act; a fraternal benefit society holding a certificate of authority under the former act of December 14, 1992 (P.L.835, No.134), known as the Fraternal Benefit Societies Code; a hospital plan corporation holding a certificate of authority under 40 Pa.C.S. Ch. 61 (relating to hospital plan corporations); a professional health service plan corporation holding a certificate of authority under 40 Pa.C.S. Ch. 63 (relating to professional health services plan corporations); or a similar entity authorized to do insurance business in this Commonwealth.

"Medical child support order."  An order which relates to the child's right to receive certain health care coverage and which:

(1)  includes the name and last known mailing address of the parent providing health care coverage and the name and last known mailing address of the child;

(2)  includes a reasonable description of the type of coverage to be provided or includes the manner in which coverage is to be determined;

(3)  designates the time period to which the order applies;

(4)  if coverage is provided through a group health plan, designates each plan to which the order applies as of the date the order is written;

(4.1)  requires that, if health care coverage is provided through the noncustodial parent's employer and that parent changes employment, the provisions of the order will remain in effect for the duration of the order and will automatically apply to the new employer. The new employer shall enroll the child in health care coverage without need for an amended order unless the noncustodial parent contests the enrollment; and

(5)  includes the name and address of the custodial parent.

"Medical support."  Health care coverage, which includes coverage under a health insurance plan or government-subsidized health care coverage, including payment of costs of premiums, copayments, deductibles and capitation fees, and payment for medical expenses incurred on behalf of a child.

"Reasonable cost."  Cost of health care coverage that does not exceed 5% of the party's net monthly income and, if the obligor is to provide health care coverage, the cost of the premium when coupled with a cash child support obligation and other child support-related obligations does not exceed the amounts allowed by the Federal threshold set forth in the Consumer Credit Protection Act (Public Law 90-321, 15 U.S.C. § 1601 et seq.).

23c4326v

(Dec. 4, 1992, P.L.757, No.114, eff. 90 days; Dec. 16, 1994, P.L.1286, No.150, eff. imd.; Dec. 16, 1997, P.L.549, No.58, eff. Jan. 1, 1998; Dec. 17, 2001, P.L.942, No.112, eff. imd.; May 13, 2008, P.L.144, No.16, eff. imd.)

 

2008 Amendment.  Act 16 amended subsecs. (a), (b), (c), (d) and (l), retroactive to March 31, 2008.

2001 Amendment.  Act 112 amended subsec. (h.1) and added subsec. (d.1).

1997 Amendment.  Act 58 amended subsecs. (a), (e), (f) intro. par., (g)(1), (4) and (4.2), (h.1)(2) and (l). Act 58 of 1997 was suspended by Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure No. 1910.50(3), as amended May 31, 2000, insofar as it is inconsistent with Rule No.1910.20 relating to the availability of remedies for collection of past due and overdue support.

1994 Amendment.  Act 150 amended subsecs. (g), (h), (i), (j), (k) and (l) and added subsec. (h.1). Section 5 of Act 150 provided that the amendment of section 4326 shall apply to all actions pending on the effective date of Act 150.

1992 Amendment.  Act 114 added section 4326. Section 4(1) of Act 114 provided that section 4326 shall apply to all support orders entered, reviewed or modified on or after the effective date of Act 114, and section 4(2) provided that section 4326(j) shall apply to support orders entered prior to the effective date of Act 114.

References in Text.  The act of December 14, 1992 (P.L.835, No.134), known as the Fraternal Benefit Societies Code, referred to in the def. of "insurer" in subsec. (l), was repealed by the act of July 10, 2002 (P.L.749, No.110). The subject matter is now contained in Article XXIV of The Insurance Company Law of 1921.

Cross References.  Section 4326 is referred to in sections 4348, 6108 of this title.

23c4327s

§ 4327.  Postsecondary educational costs.

(a)  General rule.--Where applicable under this section, a court may order either or both parents who are separated, divorced, unmarried or otherwise subject to an existing support obligation to provide equitably for educational costs of their child whether an application for this support is made before or after the child has reached 18 years of age. The responsibility to provide for postsecondary educational expenses is a shared responsibility between both parents. The duty of a parent to provide a postsecondary education for a child is not as exacting a requirement as the duty to provide food, clothing and shelter for a child of tender years unable to support himself. This authority shall extend to postsecondary education, including periods of undergraduate or vocational education after the child graduates from high school. An award for postsecondary educational costs may be entered only after the child or student has made reasonable efforts to apply for scholarships, grants and work-study assistance.

(b)  Action to recover educational expenses.--An action to recover educational costs may be commenced:

(1)  by the student if over 18 years of age; or

(2)  by either parent on behalf of a child under 18 years of age, but, if the student is over 18 years of age, the student's written consent to the action must be secured.

(c)  Calculation of educational costs.--In making an award under this section, the court shall calculate educational costs as defined in this section.

(d)  Grants and scholarships.--The court shall deduct from the educational costs all grants and scholarships awarded to the student.

(e)  Other relevant factors.--After calculating educational costs and deducting grants and scholarships, the court may order either parent or both parents to pay all or part of the remaining educational costs of their child. The court shall consider all relevant factors which appear reasonable, equitable and necessary, including the following:

(1)  The financial resources of both parents.

(2)  The financial resources of the student.

(3)  The receipt of educational loans and other financial assistance by the student.

(4)  The ability, willingness and desire of the student to pursue and complete the course of study.

(5)  Any willful estrangement between parent and student caused by the student after attaining majority.

(6)  The ability of the student to contribute to the student's expenses through gainful employment. The student's history of employment is material under this paragraph.

(7)  Any other relevant factors.

(f)  When liability may not be found.--A court shall not order support for educational costs if any of the following circumstances exist:

(1)  Undue financial hardship would result to the parent.

(2)  The educational costs would be a contribution for postcollege graduate educational costs.

(3)  The order would extend support for the student beyond the student's twenty-third birthday. If exceptional circumstances exist, the court may order educational support for the student beyond the student's twenty-third birthday.

(g)  Parent's obligation.--A parent's obligation to contribute toward the educational costs of a student shall not include payments to the other parent for the student's living expenses at home unless the student resides at home with the other parent and commutes to school.

(h)  Termination or modification of orders.--Any party may request modification or termination of an order entered under this section upon proof of change in educational status of the student, a material change in the financial status of any party or other relevant factors.

(i)  Applicability.--

(1)  This act shall apply to all divorce decrees, support agreements, support orders, agreed or stipulated court orders, property settlement agreements, equitable distribution agreements, custody agreements and/or court orders and agreed to or stipulated court orders in effect on, executed or entered since, November 12, 1992.

(2)  In addition, this act shall apply to all pending actions for support. This section shall not supersede or modify the express terms of a voluntary written marital settlement agreement or any court order entered pursuant thereto.

(j)  Definitions.--As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:

"Educational costs."  Tuition, fees, books, room, board and other educational materials.

"Postsecondary education."  An educational or vocational program provided at a college, university or other postsecondary vocational, secretarial, business or technical school.

23c4327v

(July 2, 1993, P.L.431, No.62, eff. imd.)

 

1993 Amendment.  Act 62 added section 4327. See the preamble to Act 62 in the appendix to this title for special provisions relating to legislative intent.

23c4341h

 

 

SUBCHAPTER C

PROCEEDINGS GENERALLY

 

Sec.

4341.  Commencement of support actions or proceedings.

4342.  Expedited procedure.

4343.  Paternity.

4344.  Contempt for failure of obligor to appear.

4345.  Contempt for noncompliance with support order.

4346.  Contempt for noncompliance with visitation or partial custody order (Repealed).

4347.  Security for attendance or performance.

4348.  Attachment of income.

4349.  Consolidation of proceedings.

4350.  Effect of appeal.

4351.  Costs and fees.

4352.  Continuing jurisdiction over support orders.

4353.  Duty to report.

4354.  Willful failure to pay support order.

4355.  Denial or suspension of licenses.

23c4341s

§ 4341.  Commencement of support actions or proceedings.

(a)  Procedure.--A support action or proceeding under this chapter shall be commenced in the manner prescribed by the Rules of Civil Procedure governing actions of support.

(b)  Standing.--Any person caring for a child shall have standing to commence or continue an action for support of that child regardless of whether a court order has been issued granting that person custody of the child.

(c)  Jurisdiction.--The court shall exercise Statewide jurisdiction over the parties to a proceeding under this chapter.

23c4341v

(Dec. 16, 1997, P.L.549, No.58, eff. Jan. 1, 1998)

 

1997 Amendment.  Act 58 of 1997 was suspended by Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure No. 1910.50(3), as amended May 31, 2000, insofar as it is inconsistent with Rule No.1910.20 relating to the availability of remedies for collection of past due and overdue support.

23c4342s

§ 4342.  Expedited procedure.

(a)  General rule.--The Supreme Court shall by general rule provide for expedited procedures for the determination of paternity and the determination and enforcement of support. The procedures shall include an office conference; a conference summary to the court by the hearing officer; an opportunity for the court to enter an order without hearing the parties; and an opportunity for the parties to demand a full hearing by the court.

(b)  Alternate procedure.--The Supreme Court shall also provide an alternate expedited procedure which may be adopted by local rule of the courts of common pleas. The procedure shall include an office conference; an evidentiary hearing before a hearing officer who shall be an attorney; a transcript of the testimony; a report and recommendation to the court by the hearing officer; and an opportunity for the filing of exceptions with and argument before the court.

(c)  Long arm procedures.--The Supreme Court shall by general rule establish procedures for the exercise of long arm jurisdiction to establish paternity and to establish and enforce support. Long arm jurisdiction shall be used in preference to proceedings under Part VIII (relating to uniform interstate family support) or VIII-A (relating to intrastate family support) unless it would be more effective to proceed otherwise. Long arm proceedings may be commenced or continued in any county where the plaintiff resides regardless of whether the parties maintained a family domicile in that county.

(d)  Jurisdiction over nonresident.--(Deleted by amendment).

(e)  Default.--The court shall enter a default order establishing paternity and enforcing support upon a showing that the defendant has been properly served and has not appeared.

(f)  Hearsay exception.--For proceedings pursuant to this section, a verified petition, affidavit or document and a document incorporated by reference in any of them which would not be excluded under the hearsay rule if given in person is admissible in evidence if given under oath by a party or witness.

(g)  Payment record.--A copy of the record of support payments certified as a true copy of the original by the custodian of the record is evidence of facts asserted in it and is admissible to show whether payments were made.

(h)  Bills.--Copies of billing statements, bills for testing for parentage and for prenatal and postnatal health care of the mother and child furnished to the adverse party at least ten days before a court proceeding are admissible in evidence to prove the amount of the charges billed and to prove that the charges were reasonable, necessary and customary.

(i)  Transmission of documentary evidence.--Documentary evidence transmitted to the domestic relations section by telephone, telecopier or other means which do not provide an original writing may not be excluded from evidence based on the means of transmission.

(j)  Testimony.--In a proceeding under this part, a court may permit a party or witness to be deposed or to testify by telephone, audiovisual or other electronic means at a designated location.

23c4342v

(Mar. 25, 1988, P.L.296, No.35, eff. imd.; July 2, 1993, P.L.431, No.62, eff. imd.; Dec. 16, 1994, P.L.1286, No.150, eff. imd.; Apr. 4, 1996, P.L.58, No.20, eff. imd.; Dec. 16, 1997, P.L.549, No.58, eff. Jan. 1, 1998)

 

1997 Amendment.  Act 58 added subsecs. (f), (g), (h), (i) and (j). Act 58 of 1997 was suspended by Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure No. 1910.50(3), as amended May 31, 2000, insofar as it is inconsistent with Rule No.1910.20 relating to the availability of remedies for collection of past due and overdue support.

1996 Amendment.  Act 20 amended subsec. (c) and deleted subsec. (d).

1994 Amendment.  Act 150 amended subsec. (a) and added subsec. (e).

Suspension by Court Rule.  Section 4342 was suspended by Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure No. 1910.50(2), as amended May 31, 2000, insofar as it provides that long arm jurisdiction shall be used in preference to proceedings under Part VIII-A relating to intrastate family support actions.

Section 4342(f) was suspended by Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure No. 1910.50(4), as amended May 31, 2000, insofar as it is inconsistent with Rule 1910.26 as it relates to record hearings in support actions.

23c4343s

§ 4343.  Paternity.

(a)  Determination.--Where the paternity of a child born out of wedlock is disputed, the determination of paternity shall be made by the court in a civil action without a jury. A putative father may not be prohibited from initiating a civil action to establish paternity. The burden of proof shall be by a preponderance of the evidence. Bills for pregnancy, childbirth, postnatal care related to the pregnancy and genetic testing are admissible as evidence without requiring third-party foundation testimony and shall constitute prima facie evidence of amounts incurred for such services or for testing on behalf of the child. If there is clear and convincing evidence of paternity on the basis of genetic tests or other evidence, the court shall upon motion of a party issue a temporary order of support pending the judicial resolution of a dispute regarding paternity. The Supreme Court shall provide by general rule for entry of a default order establishing paternity upon a showing of service of process on the defendant and a subsequent failure to appear for scheduled genetic testing.

(b)  Limitation of actions.--

(1)  An action or proceeding under this chapter to establish the paternity of a child born out of wedlock must be commenced within 18 years of the date of birth of the child.

(2)  As of August 16, 1984, the requirement of paragraph (b)(1) shall also apply to any child for whom paternity has not yet been established and any child for whom a paternity action was brought but dismissed because of a prior statute of limitations of less than 18 years.

(c)  Genetic tests.--

(1)  Upon the request of any party to an action to establish paternity, supported by a sworn statement from the party, the court or domestic relations section shall require the child and the parties to submit to genetic tests. The domestic relations section shall obtain an additional genetic test upon the request and advance payment by any party who contests the initial test.

(2)  Genetic test results indicating a 99% or greater probability that the alleged father is the father of the child shall create a presumption of paternity which may be rebutted only by clear and convincing evidence that the results of the genetic tests are not reliable in that particular case.

(3)  To ensure the integrity of the specimen and that the proper chain of custody has been maintained, the genetic tests of the biological mother, the child or children in question and the alleged father should be conducted by an established genetic-testing laboratory in the course of its regularly conducted business activity, and certified records should be issued. The certified records shall be admissible into evidence without further foundation, authentication or proof of accuracy if no objection is made within ten days prior to trial. The laboratory must be certified by either the American Association of Blood Banks or the American Association for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics.

(4)  If the court or domestic relations section orders genetic testing, the domestic relations section shall pay the cost of the test, subject to recoupment from the alleged father if paternity is established.

(5)  A determination of paternity made by another state, whether through judicial proceedings, administrative proceedings or by acknowledgment of paternity, shall be given full faith and credit in the courts of this Commonwealth.

(6)  A determination of nonpaternity made by another state with respect to a public assistance recipient shall not be binding upon the Department of Public Welfare unless the defendant shows that the department had actual notice of the proceedings, including the date and time of any trial, and a fair opportunity to participate in all material proceedings through counsel of its own choice.

23c4343v

(Dec. 20, 1989, P.L.654, No.81, eff. imd.; Dec. 16, 1994, P.L.1286, No.150, eff. imd.; Dec. 16, 1997, P.L.549, No.58, eff. Jan. 1, 1998)

 

1997 Amendment.  Act 58 amended subsecs. (a) and (c)(1), (4) and (6). Act 58 of 1997 was suspended by Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure No. 1910.50(3), as amended May 31, 2000, insofar as it is inconsistent with Rule No.1910.20 relating to the availability of remedies for collection of past due and overdue support.

1994 Amendment.  Act 150 amended subsec. (c). Section 5 of Act 150 provided that the amendment of section 4343 shall apply to all actions pending on the effective date of Act 150.

Cross References.  Section 4343 is referred to in section 4305 of this title.

23c4344s

§ 4344.  Contempt for failure of obligor to appear.

A person who willfully fails or refuses to appear in response to a duly served order or other process under this chapter may, as prescribed by general rule, be adjudged in contempt. Contempt shall be punishable by any one or more of the following:

(1)  Imprisonment for a period not to exceed six months.

(2)  A fine not to exceed $500.

(3)  Probation for a period not to exceed six months.

23c4344v

 

Cross References.  Section 4344 is referred to in section 4345 of this title.

23c4345s

§ 4345.  Contempt for noncompliance with support order.

(a)  General rule.--A person who willfully fails to comply with any order under this chapter, except an order subject to section 4344 (relating to contempt for failure of obligor to appear), may, as prescribed by general rule, be adjudged in contempt. Contempt shall be punishable by any one or more of the following:

(1)  Imprisonment for a period not to exceed six months.

(2)  A fine not to exceed $1,000.

(3)  Probation for a period not to exceed one year.

(b)  Condition for release.--An order committing a defendant to jail under this section shall specify the condition the fulfillment of which will result in the release of the obligor.

23c4345v

(Oct. 16, 1996, P.L.706, No.124, eff. 60 days)

 

Cross References.  Section 4345 is referred to in sections 4326, 4353 of this title.

23c4346s

§ 4346.  Contempt for noncompliance with visitation or partial custody order (Repealed).

23c4346v

 

2010 Repeal.  Section 4346 was repealed November 23, 2010, P.L.1106, No.112, effective in 60 days.

23c4347s

§ 4347.  Security for attendance or performance.

At any stage of the proceedings under this chapter, upon affidavit filed that the obligor is about to leave this Commonwealth or the judicial district or, where in the judgment of the court, the obligor has habitually failed to comply with court orders under this chapter, the court may, as prescribed by general rule, issue appropriate process directing that the obligor be brought before the court and may direct that the obligor give security to appear when directed by the court or to comply with any order of the court.

23c4348s

§ 4348.  Attachment of income.

(a)  Existing and certain future orders.--All orders of support existing as of the effective date of this provision, as well as all orders of support entered or modified after the effective date of this provision but before June 30, 1990, shall provide for mandatory attachment of income:

(1)  if the obligor is in arrears in payment in an amount equal to or greater than one month's support obligation;

(2)  at the request of the obligor;

(3)  at the request of the obligee; or

(4)  as of July 1, 1991, except as provided by subsection (b)(1) and (2).

(b)  Future orders.--All orders of support entered or modified on or after July 1, 1990, shall, as part of the order, provide for the mandatory attachment of income unless:

(1)  the obligor is not in arrears in payment in an amount equal to or greater of one month's support obligation; and

(2)  (i)  one of the parties demonstrates, and the court finds, that there is good cause not to require immediate income withholding; or

(ii)  a written agreement is reached between the parties which provides for an alternative arrangement.

The court may, on its own motion, order the attachment of the obligor's income where the court has a reasonable basis to believe the obligor will not comply with the order of support. In making this determination, the court may consider evidence of the person's previous violations of orders entered in any jurisdiction or evidence that the obligor has attempted to conceal income or to transfer, convey or encumber property in order to reduce the obligor's support obligation. Attachment shall occur under this subsection without amendment to the order of support and, if arrearages occur, without the need for a judicial or administrative hearing.

(c)  Assessment of penalty.--The court may impose a penalty of not more than 10% on any amount in arrears for 30 days or more if the court determines that the arrearage was willful.

(d)  Arrearages.--If support arrearages exist at the time of the entry of the order, the order shall specify all of the following:

(1)  To whom an arrearage is owed and the amount of the arrearage.

(2)  The period of time for which the arrearage is calculated.

(3)  The amount of periodic support to be applied to current support and the amount to be applied to arrearages.

(4)  If support arrearages are owed to more than one obligee, how payments are to be divided and in which priority.

(5)  A direction that all payments are to be credited to current support obligations first, with any payment in excess to be applied to arrearages.

(d.1)  Insurance.--If an obligor or obligee is in violation of an order under section 4326(j)(3) (relating to mandatory inclusion of child medical support), the attachment shall be in favor of the appropriate provider of health care coverage.

(e)  Attachment process.--

(1)  The obligor shall be given notice of the attachment of his income. Such notice shall specify all of the following:

(i)  The amount to be withheld on account of current support and on account of arrears.

(ii)  That the order of attachment shall apply to current and future employers.

(iii)  That the grounds for contesting the order of attachment shall be limited to mistakes of fact. Mistakes of fact shall be limited to errors in the amount of current support owed, errors in the amount of arrearage, an attachment in excess of the maximum amount set forth in subsection (g) or mistaken identity of the obligor.

(iv)  That attachment has occurred or shall occur in all cases within ten days of the issuance of the notice.

(v)  A notice of how and when the order may be contested.

(2)  To contest the order, the obligor must appear before the domestic relations section no later than ten days after issuance of the notice, at which time it will be determined if a mistake of fact has occurred. If so, the order shall be modified accordingly.

(f)  Request of obligor.--The court shall also order the attachment of income where the obligor so requests.

(g)  Maximum amount.--The maximum amount of any attachment under this section shall not exceed the limits set forth in the Consumer Credit Protection Act (Public Law 90-321, 15 U.S.C. § 1601 et seq.).

(h)  Termination.--The court may order the termination of an order of attachment in any of the following instances:

(1)  The support obligation has terminated and the total arrearages are paid.

(2)  Where the payee cannot be located and it becomes impossible to forward payments.

(3)  The result would be unconscionable.

(i)  Notice to employer.--The employer of an obligor shall be given notice of the attachment as provided by the Rules of Civil Procedure governing support. This notice shall include reference to subsections (g), (k), (l), (n) and (o) and all of the following:

(1)  The amount to be attached.

(2)  That the attachment shall be implemented as soon as possible and no later than 14 days from the issuance of the notice to the employer.

(3)  That the attachment payment must be sent to the domestic relations section or State disbursement unit, as appropriate, within seven business days of the date the obligor is paid.

(4)  That the attachment order is binding upon the employer until further notice.

(5)  That the employer may combine attachment payments into a single payment to the domestic relations section and separately identify the portions attributable to each obligor.

(6)  That the employer must notify the domestic relations section when the obligor terminates employment and provide his last known address and the new employer's name and address, if known.

(j)  Effect of compliance by employer.--Compliance by an employer with an order of attachment of income that is regular on its face operates as a discharge of the civil liability of the employer to the obligor as to that portion of the employment income of the obligor affected. An employer shall not be subject to criminal or civil liability to any individual or agency for conduct in compliance with the order. The employer may deduct from the income of the obligor 2% of the amount paid under the order for reimbursement of the expense in complying with the order. In no case shall the employer's reimbursement be deducted from the amount of the support order.

(k)  Effect of noncompliance by employer.--

(1)  An employer or officer or employee thereof who willfully fails to comply with an order of attachment under this chapter may, as prescribed by general rule, be adjudged in contempt and committed to jail or fined by the court.

(2)  The employer shall be liable for any amount the employer willfully fails to withhold from income due an employee under an order of attachment of income and any amount which is withheld from such income but not forwarded to the domestic relations office.