Friday, January 22, 2010

custody - homosexual parents - Constant A. overruled - shared custody - school-age children

M.A.T v. G.S.T - Superior Court - January 21, 2010

Appellant M.A.T. (“Mother”) appeals the trial court’s order dated August 11, 2008 denying her petition for modification of a custody order granting Appellee G.S.T. (“Father”) primary physical custody of their daughter K.J.T. (“Daughter”).

The trial court based its decision on (1) its application of an evidentiary presumption against a homosexual parent, see, e.g., Constant A. v. Paul C.A., 496 A.2d 1 (Pa. Super. 1985); and (2) rejection of uncontroverted expert testimony recommending shared custody.

For the reasons set forth herein, we reverse the trial court’s order and grant Mother’s petition for modification of the custody order. In doing so, we overrule the holding and reasoning in Constant.

We further rule that the trial court in this case abused its discretion in rejecting the recommendations of the jointly retained custody evaluator and basing its decision to award primary physical custody to Father upon the trial court’s personal opinion that shared custody is seldom (if ever) in the best interests of school-age children.

Accordingly, we vacate the trial court’s order dated August 11, 2008 and remand for entry of an order consistent with this opinion.

Authenticating Web Pages as Evidence

An informative article entitled Authenticating Web Pages as Evidence, has been published in the Law Technology News section of law.com.

The article addresses the issue of how to authenticate evidence of something published on the Internet, typically in the form of a screen shot or PDF copy of a web page. it discusses authentication under the Federal Rules of Evidence, the use of the Internet Archive, and the issue of judicial notice of information on web sites.

The article was authored by M. Anderson Berry and David Kiernan. David C. Kiernan is a litigator in the Trial Practice Group of Jones Day in its San Francisco Office and is a member of the firm's E-discovery Committee. M. Anderson Berry is also an attorney in the same office.

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