In a child custody case it is almost inevitable that at some point one or both parents will become involved with a new significant other. In my family law practice, I routinely encounter situations where a parent does not want to inform the other parent of who his or her new paramour is. Now, this isn't always a problem and everyone is entitled to a certain degree of privacy. However, if a relationship reaches a level where a parent wants to cohabitate with their new significant other that right to privacy becomes diminished as the safety of the child or children becomes the most important concern.
According to Pennsylvania law, the Court is required to determine whether a party or household member poses a threat of harm to a child in an event of a criminal conviction. As a result, all members of a household must be disclosed to the Court through a sworn affidavit by each parent. This affidavit inquires as to the household member's criminal histories regarding issues ranging from DUI to Homicide. If a household member has been convicted of one of the offenses outlined in the affidavit, the court must conduct a hearing to determine whether a parent or household member poses a risk of harm before making a ruling on custody.
Therefore, your choice of partner in a relationship can significantly affect your child custody order if that partner has a criminal record. The Court may determine that your new significant other poses a risk to the child and you will be forced to make a choice between your child and paramour. Although the Court would not likely prevent you from seeing your child, it may enter an order restricting the paramour from having any contact with your child and as a result, your custodial time with your child could be severely limited if you choose to remain with him/her.
If you need advice regarding any child custody issues, contact my Pittsburgh family law office, Gusty A.E. Sunseri & Associates, to speak with an experienced family law attorney.