Child Custody Lawyer

Benefits of Hiring Custody Lawyers in Lancaster, PA

Divorce, Child Custody and family law cases can be highly sensitive and volatile.  You need a Family Law Lawyer with knowledge and experience. Pennsylvania has complicated child custody laws which address the determination of child custody, visitation, child support, and many other family law issues.  Hiring Custody Lawyers in Lancaster PA can help you navigate through the process.

Spouses and parents often do not know what the law requires of them or the protections it provides. The Pennsylvania Domestic Relations Code and Lancaster County Family Court rules must be strictly followed or you may damage your case.  You should consult with a divorce and family attorney to get answers to your questions as to your rights in a divorce, child custody, your property rights and your rights and responsibilities resulting from the marriage.  We can understand and analyze your situation to help you to make decisions in the best interest of your family.

Our family lawyers in Lancaster Pa have assisted clients with contested and uncontested divorce, custody and visitation (parenting plans), equitable distribution, alimony, prenuptial agreements, marital agreements, child support, domestic violence, relocation, enforcement, contempt, and Custody modification issues.   Contact Us today for a consultation, get the advice you need.

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Why get a Custody Order?

Custody order perform two major functions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Additional Child Custody Issues to Consider

Mother researching a Custody Lawyer in lancaster pa for custody of small child

Filing for Child Support

Pennsylvania requires that the parent who spends less time caring for a child (Non-Custodial Parent) pay child support.  Payment is normally required until the child reachs the age of 18.

The Child support process is typically started with paperwork at the Domestic Relations Office.  Pennsylvania uses a formula to determine the amount of child support ordered in each case.  This formula can be affected significantly by parties income, healthcare expenses, child care costs, and the amount of time spent with the child.   

Contact our Custody Lawyer in Lancaster Pa to walk you through the process and ensure that the Child Support Order includes an accurate and fair payment amount.

Divorce

In Pennsylvania many times child custody is attached to a petition for divorce.  This means that parties must not only proceed with obtaining a divorce decree, but before doing so, they must resolve other issues which often include custody of the child or children, the amount of child and/or spousal support, and equitably dividing the marital property.  Our family law attorney will help negotiate an agreement which can avoid the costs and delays of court appearances.


Protection From Abuse

Protection from abuse orders can further complicate any custody proceeding.  It is important to be represented throughout the process in order to ensure your rights are protected.   Reaching out to a Family Law Attorney in Lancaster Pa can ensure your rights are protected and that you aren’t saddled with burdensome rules around your custody case.


Emergency orders for Custody

An Emergency Petition for Custody is a request of the court to modify custody or visitation based on an extreme emergency regarding the health and safety of the child.  This petition may be filed by any interested party to the child’s custody.

A petition will only be considered when there is an allegation of dependency, neglect, and/or abuse.

Typically a temporary decision is made by the judge immediately and then a court date is scheduled in the very near future to have a hearing on the merits of your petition.

What to bring to your Free Consultation

It is important to bring the following items to your Consultation so we can completely discuss your case.  

  • previous custody orders
  • protection from abuse orders
  • Financial Records
  • Any records from Children and Youth Investigations
  • the opposing party’s address and identifying information
  • Records of child expenses including child care
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Child Custody Factors

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

  1. Which party is more likely to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and the other 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 and which party can better provide adequate physical safeguards and supervision of the child.
  3. What each party does to parent 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 relationships with sisters and brothers.
  7. The preference of the child
  8. 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.
  1. Which party is more likely to maintain a loving, stable, consistent and nurturing relationship with the child adequate for the child’s emotional needs.
  2. Which party is more likely to attend to the daily physical, emotional, developmental, educational and special needs of the child
  3. How close the parties’ homes are to one another
  4. Each party’s availability to care for the child or ability to arrange appropriate child-care
  5. The level of conflict between the parties and the willingness and ability of the parties to cooperate with one another.
  6. The history of drug or alcohol abuse of a party or member of a party’s household
  7. The mental and physical condition of a party or member of a party’s household
  8. The Lancaster County Family court will also take into consideration any other relevant factor in relation to the child
Custody lawyers in lancaster Pa accepting clients for child custody and divorce in Lancaster Pa