Pennsylvania has child custody laws which address the determination of child custody, visitation, child support, and many other family law issues.
In awarding child custody, Pennsylvania courts courts consider a number of factors that may affect the child’s physical, mental, emotional, and developmental well-being, which include
• Which party is more likely to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and the other party.
• Abuse, past and present, by a party or member of a party’s household.
• Is there a continued risk of harm to the child or an abused party? Which party can better
protect and supervise the child?
• What each party does to parent the child.
• The need for stability and continuity in the child’s education, family life and community life.
• The availability of extended family.
• The child’s relationships with sisters and brothers.
• The preference of the child. The court must determine if the child carefully thought about
his/her preference. The court must also assess the child’s maturity and judgment.
• 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.
• Which party is more likely to maintain a loving, stable, consistent and nurturing
relationship with the child adequate for the child’s emotional needs.
• Which party is more likely to attend to the daily physical, emotional, developmental,
educational and special needs of the child.
• How close the parties’ homes are to one another.
• Each party’s availability to care for the child or ability to arrange appropriate child-care.
• 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.
• The history of drug or alcohol abuse of a party or member of a party’s household.
• The mental and physical condition of a party or member of a party’s household.
• Any other relevant factor.
Why get a Custody Order? Custody order perform two major functions
- The order explains how physical Custody and legal custody will be shared between parents. Physical Custody means the court decides who the child will live with and the visitation rights of the other party. Legal Custody means who has the right and responsibility to make important decisions on behalf of the child relating to such issues as schooling, health care needs, travel, and religion.
- The second major function is if the court order is violated you can file a contempt petition against the other party for the court to enforce the order and stop the violations of the order. This could include the other party losing visitation, or going to jail.
Who can file for custody?
In order to file a custody petition in Pennsylvania, your child must have lived in the county for at least 6 months before the court in that county will hear your case. Until 6 months have passed, you must file in the county where the child lived before. As far as who can file for custody of a child, any parent may file, and someone who has acted as guardian for a child. A grandparent of a child may also file but only under certain exceptions.
Mediations/ Custody Conference
In many case Custody is settled without the input of a judge, many times in Mediations and Custody Conferences. These conferences are an opportunity for both sides to sit down and work out entire custody agreements without having to see a judge. While these conferences are beneficial, what you agree to here is binding and will end up in the finalized order. This means that an attorney is crucial in helping you understand your rights and options at the mediation and this input will be valuable in helping you come to a decision.
In filing for custody, you should bring any important papers and information such as:
- previous custody orders
- protection from abuse orders
- the opposing party’s address
- and social security numbers for all parties
In many Pennsylvania counties, you must complete your own petition, according to the rules of your county court, and take it to court.
At The Shelton firm, our family law attorneys will help you every step of the way. The new Pennsylvania custody law provides help when you believe the other party is facing a criminal charge. In this case, you may file an Expedited Petition and the court must schedule your hearing as soon as possible. After you file for custody you will be given a court date for a hearing.
The Shelton Law Firm is a practice focused on DUI law and Criminal Law. It was founded by Attorney Jonathan Shelton. Attorney Shelton is an aggressive trial lawyer who will put his expertise to work for your case. We offer legal services ranging from Traffic Ticket Defense, Criminal Defense, DUI, Personal Injury, Automobile Accidents, and Divorce and Custody Issues.