Questions Regarding Child Custody in Pennsylvania
During a marriage, parents grow accustomed to raising their children together. When they get divorced, many of the concerns parents have relate to the children. Where will the children reside? How much time will the other parent get to spend with the child? Who will receive custody? What is the difference between physical custody and legal custody? Is there a connection between the two?
When these are the questions you are facing, experienced Greensburg child custody attorneys can answer your questions and help you understand your parental responsibilities. At David K. Lucas & Associates, we have more than 40 years of experience helping parents throughout Western Pennsylvania protect the best interests of their kids during child custody arrangements.
Factors Influencing Child Custody
Child custody determinations are left to the discretion of the court. Although there are a number of factors the court considers when making their determinations, their primary focus is protecting the best interests of the children. In Pennsylvania, child custody is governed by Title 23, Section 5321, of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. Pennsylvania does not have any presumption as to who should have custody. Instead, the Courts of Pennsylvania are obligated to consider sixteen (16) different factors in deciding what would be in the best interest of the minor child. These factors include:
(1) Which party is more likely to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and another party.
(2) The present and past abuse committed by a party or member of the party's household, whether there is a continued risk of harm to the child or an abused party and which party can better provide adequate physical safeguards and supervision of the child.
(3) The parental duties performed by each party on behalf of the child.
(4) The need for stability and continuity in the child's education, family life and community life.
(5) The availability of extended family.
(6) The child's sibling relationships.
(7) The well-reasoned preference of the child, based on the child's maturity and judgment.
(8) The attempts of a parent to turn the child against the other parent, except in cases of domestic violence where reasonable safety measures are necessary to protect the child from harm.
(9) Which party is more likely to maintain a loving, stable, consistent and nurturing relationship with the child adequate for the child's emotional needs.
(10) Which party is more likely to attend to the daily physical, emotional, developmental, educational and special needs of the child.
(11) The proximity of the residences of the parties.
(12) Each party's availability to care for the child or ability to make appropriate child-care arrangements.
(13) The level of conflict between the parties and the willingness and ability of the parties to cooperate with one another. A party's effort to protect a child from abuse by another party is not evidence of unwillingness or inability to cooperate with that party.
(14) The history of drug or alcohol abuse of a party or member of a party's household.
(15) The mental and physical condition of a party or member of a party's household.
(16) Any other relevant factor.
When we work with clients, we help them understand the various factors that the court considers when arranging physical and legal custody. Physical custody determines where the children live physically, and legal custody refers to which parent has the ability to make decisions regarding the child's upbringing. Parents can receive sole or joint custody, and the amount of custody time they have often influences their child support obligations.
Contact Experienced Latrobe Visitation Attorneys
In addition to the obvious impact divorce has on parents' time with their kids, parenting plans also have corollary impacts. If one parent needs to relocate from this area to another, we can help them understand the restrictions surrounding relocation. We also work with grandparents to help them understand what rights they have.
We can help protect your parental rights throughout the custody process. Contact us online or call 724-216-6433 to schedule your free initial consultation with an experienced lawyer.