Child Custody

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Child Custody Lawyer in Pennsylvania

Child custody naturally triggers strong emotions, misunderstandings, confusion, and disputes.  In Pennsylvania, an experienced child custody lawyer may improve your ability to ensure your child’s best interests, your parental rights, and your family’s future are protected.  Whether you are just separating and looking for advice, seeking a detailed analysis of how PA child custody laws can direct the outcome of your case, or in need of a parenting agreement or a custody modification, an attorney for child custody may help you through this difficult situation. 

What Are The Different Types of Custody?

The phrase “child custody” is an umbrella term referring to a situation when one parent (sole custody) or both parents (joint custody) are legally responsible for raising and ensuring the safety of a child under the age of 18.  Under this umbrella are two categories of custody:

  • Physical Custody refers to the parent with whom the child primarily resides.  This parent is responsible for the child’s housing, feeding, and physical care.  While parents with sole physical custody of a child do not necessarily have to permit visitation from the other parent, courts may require visitation if the court deems it in the best interest of the child. This is a major factor in child support determinations. 
  • Legal Custody refers to the parent (if sole custody) or both parents (if joint custody) who is legally empowered to make decisions for the child, including what school the child will attend, religious upbringing, and other important life decisions.  Generally, the parent with sole legal custody has the final say on all meaningful decisions regarding the child, while parents with joint legal custody will generally be required to agree on decisions.

Each type and category of custody presents unique legal requirements, benefits, and challenges that an experienced custody attorney can help you navigate to find the best solution for your family.

How is Custody Determined?

While the parents may agree among themselves to the terms of a custody agreement in situations where the divorce or separation is amicable, free from abuse, or other situations under PA law, courts are often required to make custody determinations when the parents are unable to agree.  Under PA law, courts will consider a number of factors when determining what is in the best interests of the child, including:

  • Will the parent encourage contact and relationships (when appropriate) with the other parent and their family members?
  • Is the parent abusive or does the parent have a history of abuse?
  • What role has the parent played in the upbringing of the child?
  • What is the need and which parent can best provide stability and continuity in the child’s education, family life, and community life?
  • What is the availability of extended family?
  • Does the child have siblings and what are those relationships like?
  • Giving weight to their maturity and judgment, what does the child prefer?
  • Has the parent made attempts to turn the child against the other parent, except in cases of domestic violence when reasonable safety measures were required?
  • Which parent is more likely to maintain a loving, stable, consistent and nurturing relationship with the child adequate for the child’s emotional needs?
  • Which parent is more likely to attend to the daily physical, emotional, developmental, educational and special needs of the child?
  • What is the proximity of the parents’ homes? 
  • What is each parent’s availability to care for the child or ability to make appropriate child-care arrangements?
  • Absent abuse, what is the level of conflict between the parents and the willingness and ability of the parents to cooperate with one another?
  • Does the parent or a member of the parent’s household abuse drugs or alcohol?
  • Does the parent or a member of the parent’s household have any mental or physical conditions?
  • Are there any other relevant factors that should be considered?

In making these determinations, judges will want to know as much about the parents and child as possible to make a fair determination.  An experienced child custody attorney will not only advocate for your interests in court but will also help you find solutions that work for you and your family. 

Need An Attorney for Child Custody in PA?

Finding a lawyer for a child custody case is an extremely important decision that may significantly impact your child’s future and well-being.  As such, simply searching the internet for “attorney for custody near me” might not yield the best match since child custody experience matters. If you need legal advice on child custody in Pennsylvania, please contact our experienced lawyers and get help as soon as possible.

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