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Risk Assessments Now Required for Some Child Custody Cases

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Under the new custody act, passed in November 2010 and effective January 24, 2011, Parties may have to undergo a 'risk assessment.'

By Attorney Jeffrey B. Engle, Child Custody Attorney, Harrisburg, PA

The recently enacted child custody law, effective January 24, 2011, is applicable to new and old cases under the child custody act.  Under Section 5329 of the Act, custodial parties or third parties living in the household with the minor child will have to undergo a "risk assessment" conducted by a licensed psychologist if they have been convicted of anyone of numerous offenses under the crimes code.  (See list below).  If one of the numerous convictions is present on a party's prior record or on someone living in the household, the court needs to determine if that person poses a risk of harm to the child.  The party may also need to undergo counselling to deal with the issue before custody is awarded and may also need to undergo future updated evaluations as a condition to maintaining custody.  Further, the court may order that the party pay for all costs required by the evaluation.

Here is a partial list of the offenses for which an evaluation will be required:

18 Pa.C.S. Ch. 25 (relating to criminal homicide).18 Pa.C.S. § 2702 (relating to aggravated assault).18 Pa.C.S. § 2706 (relating to terroristic threats).18 Pa.C.S. § 2709.1 (relating to stalking).18 Pa.C.S. § 2901 (relating to kidnapping).18 Pa.C.S. § 2902 (relating to unlawful restraint).18 Pa.C.S. § 2910 (relating to luring a child into a motor vehicle or structure).18 Pa.C.S. § 3121 (relating to rape).18 Pa.C.S. § 3122.1 (relating to statutory sexual assault).18 Pa.C.S. § 3123 (relating to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse).18 Pa.C.S. § 3124.1 (relating to sexual assault).18 Pa.C.S. § 3125 (relating to aggravated indecent assault).18 Pa.C.S. § 6301 (relating to corruption of minors).18 Pa.C.S. § 6312 (relating to sexual abuse of children).18 Pa.C.S. § 6318 (relating to unlawful contact with minor).18 Pa.C.S. § 6320 (relating to sexual exploitation of children). Section 6114 (relating to contempt for violation of order or agreement).The former 75 Pa.C.S. § 3731 (relating to driving under influence of alcohol or controlled substance). 75 Pa.C.S. Ch. 38 (relating to driving after imbibing alcohol or utilizing drugs). Section 13(a)(1) of the act of April 14, 1972 (P.L. 233, No. 64), known as The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, to the extent that it prohibits the manufacture, sale or delivery, holding, offering for sale or possession of any controlled substance or other drug or device.

If you've been convicted of one of these offenses, you should get a copy of your certified PA Record from the State Police.  Here is the link:

If you have a custody matter that requires a 'risk assessment' or have questions about the process, you should contact counsel to discuss with you.  You may contact Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC toll free or email us today.

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