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House of Representatives
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: January 9, 2013 09:52 AM
From: Representative Deberah Kula
To: All House members
Subject: Reintroducing House Bill 2136-Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act
 
In the near future, I will be reintroducing legislation relating to uniform child abduction standards. This legislation is identical to House Bill 2136, which was unanimously passed by the House of Representatives during the 2011-2012 Legislative Session. It is my sincere hope you will join me in this important effort.

All too often, parents or guardians kidnap children during contentious custody hearings or divorce proceedings. In fact, according to the United States Department of Justice, family abduction is the most prevalent form of child abduction in the United States. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s 2002 report on missing children estimated that 203,900 children were victims of a family abduction in 1999. Of that number, 117,200 were missing from their caretakers.

My legislation will amend Title 23 (Domestic Relations) of Pennsylvania’s Consolidated Statutes to add a new chapter, Chapter 52 – Uniform Child Abduction Prevention. The overall purpose of this legislation is to create guidelines for courts to follow in custody disputes that involve a parent or guardian deemed at risk of abducting their child. During these disputes courts would be able to consider a number of risk factors for abduction such as previous attempts to abduct the child, engagement in domestic violence, stalking or child abuse or neglect and the refusal to follow a child custody determination. If the court determines there is a risk of abduction, the court shall enter an abduction prevention order. This order must include the measures and conditions to prevent the abduction of the child, giving due consideration to the custody and visitation rights of the parties. In addition, if a court finds that there is a credible risk that the child is imminently likely to be wrongfully removed, the court may issue an ex parte warrant to take physical custody of the child.

The Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act was promulgated by the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) in 2006 to assist states in enacting family child abduction statutes. Since that time, a number of states have passed some version of the law, including Alabama, Florida, Nevada and Tennessee. Now is the time for Pennsylvania to join these states and help to safeguard our most vulnerable citizens – our children.



Introduced as HB286