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Admission of evidence in a Pennsylvania custody dispute

In states such as Pennsylvania that have no-fault divorce, except in certain circumstances, courts don’t care about the parties’ behavior or what led them to divorce court. In a custody dispute, however, a person’s character, personal choices and bad behavior could indeed make a difference. Courts often have to decide what information is admissible in a custody hearing and what is not.

Unfortunately, this can be particularly frustrating when one side is allowed to give evidence and the other is not. For instance, evidence of the mother’s prior, legal abortion was permitted. He claims the fact that the mother had the abortion makes her unfit to raise the child involved in the current custody litigation.

On the other hand, she was not allowed to introduce evidence that her ex-husband frequented massage parlors, where he allegedly solicited and paid for sex. He is said to have admitted doing so to a forensic psychologist. The judge’s decisions regarding what information is admissible and what is not was characterized as “scandalous and outrageous” by the mother’s attorney.

It may be some time before the outcome of this custody dispute is known. It is possible for one party to appeal a judge’s decision regarding the admission of evidence. In some cases, an appellate court may reverse the lower court judge’s decision. Despite everything, the goal of family courts around the country and here in Pennsylvania is to make a decision that will put the best interests of the children first after careful consideration of all competent and relevant evidence no matter what that evidence may be.

Source: opposingviews.com, Woman’s Abortion Used Against Her in Child Custody Case, But Not Man’s Massage Parlor Visits, Michael Allen, Oct. 18, 2013

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