Parental Custody Rights, Criminal Acts and Pennsylvania Law

Custody After Criminal Conviction

The 2011 Amendments to the Pennsylvania Custody Act at 23 Pa.C.S. Section 5329 of the Law provide that when an individual or household member of the individual has been convicted or charged with one of the listed criminal offenses or crimes, they must undergo an evaluation to determine whether they pose a risk of harm to the child. There are approximately 30 criminal offenses listed in Section 5329. These crimes range from homicide and rape to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

After the evaluation occurs, the Pennsylvania custody court will generally hold a hearing to determine whether, in light of the criminal conviction, the individual or household member poses a risk of harm to the child such that the individual should be precluded from exercising custodial time with the child. Furthermore, the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure have recently been amended to require that both at the time a custody action is filed and by 5 days prior to trial, a party certify they have not been convicted of a crime listed in Section 5329.

Custody While Awaiting Trial

A similar statute is 23 Pa.C.S. Section 5330. This statue provides that if a party has been charged with a crime listed in Section 5329 and the case is still pending, the Court must hold an expedited hearing to determine whether the individual charged with the crime poses a risk of harm to the child to merit a temporary modification of the custody order precluding the individual from exercising custodial time with the child. In analyzing risk of harm, Section 5330 specifically provides that the Court must analyze whether there is a risk of physical, emotional, or psychological harm.

If you have a question regarding a child custody issue, contact one of the experienced lawyers at Trinity Law today. Our lawyers routinely handle Pennsylvania family law matters in York, Lancaster and surrounding counties, including Pennsylvania child custody cases. You can contact the lawyers at Trinity Law at or by calling 717-843-8046.