The Right to Divorce for Same-Sex Couples

The recent U.S. Supreme Court Ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges declared unconstitutional any state law which prohibited same-sex marriage.   This ruling not only protects a same-sex couple’s right to marry, but also their right to divorce.  Divorce laws are governed by state and vary from state to state.  Prior to this ruling, a same-sex couple who was legally married in one state, but lived in a state that did not recognize their marriage, could not avail themselves to the protections of divorce, custody or support laws of that state.  This meant gay couples, especially those with children, looking to divorce were left with difficult decisions.  Couples either had to have the foresight to carefully draft domestic-partnership agreements, or litigate property issues under property or landlord tenant laws which do not afford the same protections as divorce laws.  Since this Supreme Court ruling, all married couples are now protected by divorce laws in each state. (more…)

Do Grandparents have Standing to Pursue Custody of a Grandchild?

Does Grandmother who has been involved in her Grandchild’s life since birth, who has been a babysitter and substantially aided in raising the child, including periods when the Mother and Child lived with her, but has not had custody of the child have standing to bring a claim for primary physical custody?  (more…)

Pennsylvania State Police Lack Standing to Pursue SORNA Appeal

The Pennsylvania State Police filed seventy-three (73) appeals to the Superior Court after the Commonwealth and defendants in those cases entered into negotiated plea agreements which would alter registration requirements the defendants would otherwise be required to follow under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).   (more…)

Can you Legally Spank your Children in Pennsylvania?

Our Commonwealth has long recognized the parental right to use corporal punishment.  This parental right is specifically protected by statute and specifies that the use of force on a minor is justified if that person is either the parent or guardian, or acting at the request of the parent or guardian, and the force used is used for the purpose of safeguarding or promoting the welfare of the minor, including the preventing or punishment of his misconduct.  (more…)

State Sanctioned Theft

Forfeiture and Seizure actions in Pennsylvania are proceedings against individuals whereby the government attempts to take private property based on the notion that the property was in some way connected to criminal activity.  (more…)

Do Grandparents have Standing to Pursue Legal and Physical Custody of a Child?

The Superior Court recently issued an opinion concerning whether a grandmother had standing to pursue legal and physical custody against the biological mother. (more…)

Governor Changes Position on Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett recently began the process of supporting a senate bill for the introduction of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. On May 1, 2014, governor Corbett issues the following press release: (more…)

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Requires a Lower Standard of Proof to Maintain Names on Statewide Register for Child Abuse

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court released on opinion earlier this week which overturned a lower court’s decision that clear and convincing evidence must be presented in order to maintain a name on the statewide register for perpetrators of child abuse.  In G.V. v. The Department of Public Welfare, the Supreme Court held that only substantial evidence is needed to maintain a name of a perpetrator of child abuse. (more…)

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Allows Warrantless Searches of Vehicles

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania recently issued an opinion which allows for the warrantless search of a vehicle in Commonwealth v. Gary.  The Court adopted the federal standard which allows for the search of a vehicle, without a warrant, when probable cause exists.  (more…)

Superior Court Affirms the Exclusion of Evidence for the Commonwealth’s Refusal to Identify its Confidential Informant

The Commonwealth was prohibited from introducing evidence it obtained through a search warrant because the affidavit of probable cause relied on information supplied by a confidential informant and the Commonwealth refused to provide the defense with information about this confidential informant.  The Superior Court affirmed the trial court’s decision to preclude this information from evidence earlier this month in Commonwealth v. Jordan, 2014 Pa.Super. 57. (more…)