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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: January 10, 2023 11:45 AM
From: Representative Kate A. Klunk
To: All House members
Subject: Pennsylvania Family Law Arbitration Act
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation that will establish the Pennsylvania Family Law Arbitration Act (PFLAA) which will create a statutory scheme for the arbitration of family law disputes in Pennsylvania. Last session, this legislation was introduced as HB 1366 and passed the House unanimously.
Arbitration is a wholly voluntary, private process that parties may use to resolve a dispute rather than going to court. During arbitration, a neutral third party, the arbitrator, hears arguments from the parties, evaluates evidence, and issues a decision on their dispute. While arbitration has long been used in a commercial context, it has recently begun to gain popularity in the family law sphere.
The PFLAA sets out arbitration procedures chronologically, from defining an arbitration agreement to providing standards for vacating a confirmed award. Under the PFLAA, a “family law dispute” is a contested issue arising under the state’s family or domestic relations law which would include disagreements about marital property, spousal support, child support, and child support. It is important to note that it does not permit an arbitrator to grant a divorce; terminate parental rights; grant an adoption or guardianship of a child or incapacitated person; or determine the status of a child in need of protection.
My legislation is based on the Uniform Family Law Arbitration act developed by the Uniform Law Commission and is consistent with the recently passed Revised Uniform Arbitration Act (Act 55 of 2018). There are key differences in order to protect vulnerable individuals during the arbitration process, such as children and victims of domestic violence. In addition, the PFLAA requires close judicial review of arbitration awards determining child-related issues.
The PFLAA offers an efficient alternative for the resolution of family law disputes. Because parties would take advantage of this private method to resolve family law matters, the significant backlog of court matters due to the COVID-19 pandemic, would be lessened. Tax dollars would also be saved because fewer parties would be utilizing the judicial system. This legislation is supported by the Pennsylvania Bar Association.
I encourage you to join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation. Thank you.