Common Child Custody Questions in Pennsylvania
What is child custody?
Pennsylvania law sets forth two types of child custody: legal and physical. Legal custody is the right to make major decisions on behalf of the child. These decisions would include topics relating to medical, religious and educational determinations. Physical custody is the physical possession and control of the child.
What types of custody may be awarded by the court?
- Partial physical custody: having physical custody of the child for less than a majority of the time.
- Primary physical custody: having physical custody of the child for the majority of time.
- Shared legal custody: both parents have a right to legal custody.
- Shared physical custody: each parent has significant periods of physical custody with the child.
- Sole legal custody: one parent has exclusive legal custody of the child.
- Sole physical custody: one parent has exclusive physical custody of the child.
- Supervised physical custody: physical custody times are supervised by an agency or another individual designated by the court to monitor the interaction between parent and child.
When does child custody come up?
Most of the time, child custody is at issue when parties are going through a divorce, when parents separate or end their relationship, or when one party files for a modification after an award of custody has already been made.
How does a court determine child custody?
The court uses the “best interest” standard. In other words, the order will be based on what is in the best interests of the children involved. In order to determine what is in a child’s best interest, the judge applies the evidence presented by the parties to the numerous factors contained within the Pennsylvania child custody statute.
What factors does the court consider when making a determination on child custody?
- Which party encourages the child to have a continuing relationship with the other parent
- Whether there has been child abuse in the past, and, if so, is the child at a continued risk of abuse in one parent’s home
- The parental duties each parent performs
- The need for stability and continuity in the child’s life
- The availability of extended family
- The child’s relationships with brother and sisters
- The child’s wishes
- Whether one parent has tried to turn the child against the other parent in the past and are they continuing to do so
- Which party is more likely to maintain a loving and stable, and healthy relationship with the child
- Which party attends to the child’s daily physical, emotional, developmental, education needs
- How close to the parties live to each other
- Each party’s availability to take care of the child
- The ability of the parties to cooperate and communicate with one another as it relates to the child
- Whether each party has a history of drug or alcohol abuse
- The health of each party, including mental, physical, and emotional
- Any other factors the court believes to be relevant
What should I do if my ex will not abide by the custody arrangement?
Your attorney will help you decide if filing a motion for contempt is the appropriate course of action. The contents of this petition will include requesting that the court require the other party to abide by the order and asking that the violating party be held in contempt and sanctioned.
What should I do if our current custody arrangement simply is not working for us?
In this case, filing a motion requesting to modify your custody order may be an option for you.
Contact a Pittsburgh Divorce Attorney Today
If you have questions about a current case involving child custody, now is the time to hire an experienced family law attorney to fight for you in court. At Bunde & Roberts, P.C., our Pittsburgh child custody attorneys are ready to protect you and your children inside and outside the courtroom. Contact us today for help.