Child custody is often one of the most contentious and emotional issues in a divorce. It is also costly – both financially and emotionally. Your child’s well-being is my primary concern, and I will look out for the best interests of your child and your rights as his or her parent. While it is best to leave child custody out of the courtroom, inability to reach an agreement or failure of good-faith negotiations make litigation necessary.
Two types of child custody exist in Pennsylvania.
1. Physical custody pertains to the physical possession and control of the child. Physical custody includes the related issues of visitation, partial custody, shared custody and primary custody.
Visitation – parent with visitation rights spends time with his or her child but cannot remove the child from the authority of the custodial parent.
Partial custody – the parent may take the child from the physical custodial parent for some overnight stays.
Shared physical custody – shared physical custody involves nearly equal custody for both parents or an arrangement that allows for substantial continuing contact between the child and both parents.
Primary custody – the parent with primary custody has the right to the majority of custodial time with the child.
2. Legal custody pertains to the significant decisions that must be made including education, religious affiliation, and medical decisions. It’s important to note that legal custody does not just apply to which house your child will stay in each night, but also the responsibility of making life-changing decisions for them.
Courts will generally approve any reasonable and mutually decided upon agreement for custody. However, it is sometimes necessary for the court to intervene and make a determination as to the best interest of the child(ren). The court will use any number of circumstances to make their determination, including consideration of the ability of both parents to care for the child, the criminal history of both parties, employment, lifestyle choices including drug and alcohol abuse, and even the child’s wishes, depending on his or her age. The court generally takes into consideration the custody situation which provides the least day to day disruption for the child.
Custody agreements can be modified through mutual agreement with the other parent or by a court decision if you can prove that a modification is necessary in order to protect the best interest of the child.
Consult me for assistance with your child custody case, and I will fight aggressively to reach your child custody goals.