Wednesday, June 22, 2016

custody - relocation

D.K.D. v. A.L.C. – Superior Court – June 15, 2016


The Court reversed the grant of mother’s relocation motion (Florida), where she had already moved with the child, and ordered the return of the child to Pennsylvania, in custody of father.

The court held that “the record will not sustain the trial court’s consideration of the § 5337(h) relocation factors. Specifically, the trial court erred in (1) finding that Mother would not further thwart Father’s relationship with L.D. following relocation; (2) ignoring that Mother’s principal motivation was to return to her native state of Florida and her concern for L.D.’s developmental condition was secondary; (3) accepting as adequate, Mother’s chiefly symbolic search for employment opportunities in Pennsylvania; and (4) concluding that Mother’s financial condition was so strained that relocation to Florida was unavoidable. “

These errors implicated five of the ten factors listed in 23 Pa.C.S. § 5337(h)(2), (3), (5), (6), and (7) and warranted reversing the trial court’s decision to grant Mother’s petition for relocation.   As the trial court's conclusions are unreasonable as shown by the evidence of record, the court could “....not accept the court’s conclusion that relocation is in L.D.’s best interest.”




The Court reversed the grant of mother’s relocation motion (Florida), where she had already moved with the child, and ordered the return of the child to Pennsylvania, in custody of father.

The court held that “the record will not sustain the trial court’s consideration of the § 5337(h) relocation factors. Specifically, the trial court erred in (1) finding that Mother would not further thwart Father’s relationship with L.D. following relocation; (2) ignoring that Mother’s principal motivation was to return to her native state of Florida and her concern for L.D.’s developmental condition was secondary; (3) accepting as adequate, Mother’s chiefly symbolic search for employment opportunities in Pennsylvania; and (4) concluding that Mother’s financial condition was so strained that relocation to Florida was unavoidable. “

These errors implicated five of the ten factors listed in 23 Pa.C.S. § 5337(h)(2), (3), (5), (6), and (7) and warranted reversing the trial court’s decision to grant Mother’s petition for relocation.   As the trial court's conclusions are unreasonable as shown by the evidence of record, the court could “....not accept the court’s conclusion that relocation is in L.D.’s best interest.”


appeals - per curiam affirmances - how to interpret

Brentwood Borough School District v. Held – Pa. Supreme Court – June 20, 2016


There are two kinds of per curiam affirmances (PCAs):

            - PCAs adopting the opinion below --  thereby signaling the Court’s approval of the mandate and adoption of the reasoning of the court below, see, e.g., Commonwealth v. Greene, 81 A.3d 829 (Pa. 2013), and


            - PCAs affirming only the order below.  In these cases, the Court offers neither approval nor disapproval of the reasoning below; the Court either agrees with the mandate, or at a minimum, is unconvinced the appellant has made a sufficient showing to disturb that result. See Commonwealth v. Tilghman, 673 A.2d 898, 904 (Pa. 1996) (when Court issues per curiam affirmance, “[u]nless we indicate that the opinion of the lower tribunal is affirmed per curiam, our order is not to be interpreted as adopting the rationale employed by the lower tribunal in reaching its final disposition”) (emphasis in original). 

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